January 8, 2003
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v2.1 Reference

William Bradford's Books

Of Plimmoth Plantation and the Printed Word

Widely regarded as the most important narrative of seventeenth-century New England, William Bradford's Of Plimmoth Plantation is one of the founding
documents of American literature and history. In William Bradford's Books this portrait of the religious dissenters who emigrated from the Netherlands to New England in 1620 receives perhaps its sharpest textual analysis to date—and the first since that of Samuel Eliot Morison two generations ago. Far from the gloomy elegy that many readers find, Bradford's history, argues Douglas Anderson, demonstrates remarkable ambition and subtle grace, as it contemplates the adaptive success of a small community of religious exiles. Anderson offers fresh literary and historical accounts of Bradford's accomplishment, exploring the context and the form in which the author intended his book to be read.

About the Author

Douglas Anderson is the Sterling Goodman Professor of English at the University of Georgia. He is the author of A House Undivided: Domesticity and Community in American Literature and The Radical Enlightenments of Benjamin Franklin, the latter available from Johns Hopkins.


"Meticulously researched and eloquently argued... This lovingly fashioned biography of the first American history book affirms the fundamental responsibilities of good history writing."

- Richard J. Bell - New England Quarterly

"The extraordinary care with which Anderson has crafted his own book can be seen as a kind of homage to its subject... William Bradford's Books is in many ways an unexpectedly rewarding read and a major contribution to early American studies. It is a text that literary critics and historians are both likely to engage with and to rely on for a long time to come and that is poised to change forever how Of Plimmoth Plantation is read and taught."

- Michelle Burnham - William and Mary Quarterly

"A model of close reading based on strategies that few if any early Americanists have employed."

- David D. Hall - Common-Place

"A substantial analysis of the form and content of Bradford's history of Plymouth studied against the era's reading practices, publishing conventions, and scriptural interpretations... By making sense of Bradford's manuscript, Anderson brings Bradford himself closer."

- Mark Noll - First Things

"The publication of Douglas Anderson's fine book seems, well, providential, and one hopes that it finds the audience that it so richly deserves."

- David Read - American Historical Review

"Anderson himself has written a book that presents Bradford's work in equally splendid and unexpected ways, restoring complexity and immediacy to a volume that we thought we knew all along... It is a rare accomplishment to bring readers back to a text as canonical as Of Plimmouth Plantation in a new way."

- Kathleen Donegan - Early American Literature

"Through Anderson's rich and multifaceted portrait... the reader ultimately re-experiences the full meaning of Bradford's attempt to capture the Puritan experience in the New World."

- Oliver Scheiding - Amerikastudien / American Studies

"Rarely can a scholar so thoroughly resituate such a foundational work as William Bradford's history as Anderson does here."

- Julie Sievers - Libraries and Culture


"Anderson's skilled and subtle take on a classic text and its contexts reconstructs our image of Bradford's mental world. Catching the ebb tide of postmodernism, this keen work furnishes a model for future literary-historical scholarship."

- Michael McGiffert, Editor Emeritus, William and Mary Quarterly
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9780801870743 : william-bradfords-books-anderson
296 Pages
$55.00 USD

Other Titles by Douglas Anderson

The Unfinished Life of Benjamin Franklin

Douglas Anderson
Jun 2012 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$60.00 USD - Hardback
$60.00 USD - Electronic book text

The Radical Enlightenments of Benjamin Franklin

Douglas Anderson
Dec 2000 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$30.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General

Bergson, Eliot, and American Literature

Paul Douglass
Mar 2025 - University Press of Kentucky
$30.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$12.95 USD - Electronic book text

Leaving Other People Alone

Aaron Kreuter
May 2023 - University of Alberta Press
$39.99 USD - Paperback / softback

Understanding Jonathan Franzen

Timothy W. Galow
Feb 2023 - University of South Carolina Press
$65.99 USD - Hardback
$21.99 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800

Jane Austen and the Price of Happiness

Inger Sigrun Bredkjær Brodey
Jun 2024 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$27.95 USD - Hardback
$27.95 USD - Electronic book text

Longing for Connection

Andrew Burstein
Apr 2024 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$34.95 USD - Hardback
$34.95 USD - Electronic book text

From Chinese Cosmology to English Romanticism

Yu Liu
May 2023 - University of South Carolina Press
$44.99 USD - Hardback