History Book Review 1

History Book Review 1 - Jason Kampsky History 161 Section 5...

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Jason Kampsky November 12, 2007 History 161, Section 5 Johnson, Paul E., Wilentz, Sean. The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19 th -Centruy America . New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1994. The Kingdom of Matthias did not really seem like a book I thought I would find very interesting. I have read other books about the 19 th century, but they all concerned 19 th century England. What would be the difference between the 19 th century in America and England? I did not think there would be a substantial difference until I read this book. To be perfectly honest, this time period bores me. The whole Market Revolution and Industrial Revolution during this century has always struck me as dull and nothing really to think about (even though that preconception is entirely inaccurate). However, this book did not deal with the typical topics historian try to drill into our heads about the 19 th century. It deals with ultraist (fanaticism) ideals of everyday Americans trying to find their “way”. That is to say, religion and the rise of the market society caused a lot of radical thinking during the 19 th century. This book shows how the rise and fall of individuals engulfed with the happenings of the economy and market at the time desired guidance and looked to religion. Over the course of the book, all the individuals involved created a real-life “melodrama” that does not sound unfamiliar this day in age (Johnson, Wilentz, The Kingdom of Matthias , 134). This, relating the happenings of Robert Matthew (Matthias) and the rest of the people swatting in his Kingdom to “family life, sexuality, and social life” of today, seems to be the point of this book. 1
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Johnson and Wilentz obviously had some reason to write this book. The story of this classic cult (cult classic?) represents the “shock value” associated with such massive, unorthodox, religious factions “resonates for Americans today” (Johnson, Wilentz, The Kingdom of Matthias , 11). Even still, while the purpose of telling the story seems clear enough, the viewpoint the two authors take does not and I personally found that annoying. They did not really make an argument until the end of the book. I could not tell
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History Book Review 1 - Jason Kampsky History 161 Section 5...

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