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Between Two Worlds

How the English Became Americans

Malcolm Gaskill



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Oxford University Press
05 November 2020
Between Two Worlds is the story of modern America's first century. Beginning with the shaky start at Jamestown in 1607, and ending with the cultural crisis of the Salem witch-trials in 1692, Malcolm Gaskill recreates the fascinating transatlantic story of the English plantations in north America. From Maine in the north right down to the Caribbean, the book charts the evolving attitudes to transatlantic adventures in England as the colonies grew in size, wealth and confidence, as well as the evolving attitudes to the mother country in the colonies themselves. It is a story teeming with people on the move, making decisions, indulging or resisting their desires and dreams - and one which has often been neglected or misunderstood on both sides of the Atlantic in the centuries since.
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 215mm,  Width: 147mm,  Spine: 28mm
Weight:   630g
ISBN:   9780199672974
ISBN 10:   0199672970
Pages:   512
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Malcolm Gaskill is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia. Educated at Cambridge University, he has taught at several UK universities and was formerly Fellow and Director of Studies at Churchill College, Cambridge. An authority on witchcraft and witch-trials, he is the author of numerous books and articles on the social and cultural history of England between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries, including Witchcraft: a Very Short Introduction (2010), also published by Oxford University Press.

Reviews for Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans

Students and researchers will certainly benefit from reading Between Two Worlds. Gaskill has illuminated a wealth of new evidence about the lives of Americas earliest English settlers... * Misha Ewen, The Seventeenth Century. * Malcolm Gaskill has taken on a daunting challenge. He aims at nothing less than providing a general interpretative history of England's seventeenth-century New World colonies, all of them, from Newfoundland to Barbados. That he offers a strikingly original account of the conquest and settlement of English America makes Gaskill's splendidly written book even more impressive. * T.H. Breen New England Quarterly * One of this book's greatest strengths is its suitability for a wide readership of experts, students, and enthusiasts. Historians will be satisfied with the quality, relevance, and importance of Gaskill's central arguments, which are effectively developed throughout the book, but the lively prose, illustrations, and the breadth of the narrative also positions this book extremely well both for adoption in undergraduate and graduate classrooms and for prominent placement in commercial bookstores. * Ken MacMillan, Journal of British Studies * Gaskill has written an absorbing and ambitious tale * Reviews in History * Gaskill's work may pave the way for future Atlantic historians to elaborate on not only the differences in colonization patterns among the European nations, but also, what these differences meant for the colonists and the way they perceived themselves in relation to the mother country * Madison Historical Review * According to Malcolm Gaskill's lively history of the first century of colonization, the last thing these intrepid emigrants intended to do was give birth to America... A powerful antidote to narratives that celebrate an exceptionalist American history untethered to its English past * Times Literary Supplement * Malcolm Gaskill's absorbing account of 17th-century English colonisation in various parts of North America works against the grain of preconception to restore a neglected dimension of the history of England . * The Guardian * Gaskill's chapter headings are as colourful as his prose, which is also taut, direct and orderly... His hold on overlapping narratives remains impressive and confident. In fact the book may appeal most to those who want a rollicking adventure story, told with pace and much detail. * History Today * beautifully written, sweeping and yet fine-grained account ... There are many fine books on British and Irish migration to colonial America, and this deserves a foremost place among them, not least for its originality in being as much about England as it is about America ... Throughout this account, his scholarship and originality are worn lightly * Donald M. MacRaild, Times Higher Education * Gaskill has presented us with a work of impressive scope, and also great depth ... This book represents an important contribution to our understanding of the earliest years of American history, while also reminding us of how America in turn shaped England and its early imperial history. * Joan Redmond, Reviews in History * An entertaining romp through kaleidoscopic images of colonists coping with the shock of the new while clinging to the older verities of their origins . . . Readers can delight in Gaskill's winning narration of the old certainties in a new style. * Wall Street Journal * The conversion of English adventurers into American pioneers emerges, beautifully and brutally. * New Yorker * This book is not meant to be a history of 17th century America, though it succeeds rather well in that regard. Gaskill instead seeks to chart the development of a distinctive American identity in the new world. He succeeds quite brilliantly. * Gerard de Groot, The Times * [An] elegant and vivacious narrative ... Gaskill, who has dug deep in the primary sources, imposes order on an extraordinary range of material. * Blair Worden, Literary Review * extraordinary scholarship * Independent, Rachel Trethewey * Malcolm Gaskill re-creates the Englishness of early America in a transatlantic history that is deeply researched yet vividly told. Through his epic stories of adventure we gain a new appreciation of the planters, saints and warriors who established the English roots of modern America - men and women who helped make a New World out of the culture and language of the Old. * David Reynolds, author of America, Empire of Liberty * Between Two Worlds offers a comprehensive history of the English people's experience in America in the seventeenth century, in its continuing and changing relation to events in England. By including people in all the colonies and at all levels of society, we gain a true and compelling picture of these experiences. * Karen Kupperman, author of The Jamestown Project * A well-written, refreshing examination of seventeenth-century America (including both mainland and Caribbean settlements) from the English perspective. Written by an accomplished English historian, Between Two Worlds will provide readers with many new insights into the conservative English people who became Americans almost in spite of themselves. * Mary Beth Norton, Professor of American History at Cornell University and author of In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 * This is a superb book. It could stand alone as a sweeping and comprehensive account of the first century of English settlement in The New World. But Malcolm Gaskill goes further and offers us a fascinating view of the formation of an English America in which colonists gradually become Americans and the English at home become increasingly distant. Between Two Worlds is simply the best book on the subject. * James Horn, author of A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America * We don't really know ourselves until we travel elsewhere. For those who thought they knew their American or British history, Malcolm Gaskill's new book does just that. He takes two familiar histories that are often told separately, of England and colonial America, and shows how inseparable they actually were. Between Two Worlds is not just beautifully written and grippingly told-it is also arrestingly original. * Andrew Preston, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy * This is the finest book that I have read for showing how the first English colonies in America influenced the homeland, and vice versa. In the process, it shows splendidly how complex and divisive the experience of settlement was, and yet how much it already shaped the future United States. * Ronald Hutton * Gaskill presents us with a nuanced portrait of a searching and uncertain colonial people trying to make sense of an England whose changing social order and customs had seemingly left them behind. * Michael Householder, American Historical Review * Gaskill is to be commended for this remarkably nuanced history which shows how colonial encounters transformed mentalities on both sides of the Atlantic. It offers a compelling account of how questions of identity, exile, discovery, loyalty and courage were transformed as they crossed colonial frontiers. * Naomi Pullin, English Historical Review *

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