The Puritans: A Transatlantic History

Princeton Univ. Nov. 2019. 520p. notes. index. ISBN 9780691151397. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780691195469. HIST
Puritanism became a movement in England and Scotland during the reign of Elizabeth I. Essentially, Puritanism sought to purge the Protestant Church in both countries of all vestiges of Catholicism and restore (in structure, governance, worship, membership, and doctrine) what it considered the true church, resembling, as near as possible, congregations of the first several Christian centuries. Puritans demanded the state stay out of governing its affairs yet asked for its civil authority to enforce church discipline. As a movement within the English and Scottish churches, Puritanism had died by 1700. However, the Pilgrims carried it to British North America in 1620, where many of its religious practices were adopted by American Protestantism. Hall (emeritus, history, Harvard Div. Sch.; A Reforming People) explores the intellectual and political complexities of the faith, debunking many preconceptions of Puritans.
VERDICT An excellent study for specialists of religious and political history of 16th- and 17th-century England, Scotland, and America. However, general readers might find this less rewarding, in part owing to the dense writing style that unfortunately lacks a smooth narrative flow.
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