Monday, September 03, 2007

Pg. 99: "Providence and the Invention of the United States"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Nicholas Guyatt's Providence and the Invention of the United States, 1607-1865.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nicholas Guyatt offers a completely new understanding of a central question in American history: how did Americans come to think that God favored the United States above other nations? Making sense of previously diffuse debates on manifest destiny, millenarianism, and American mission, Providence and the Invention of the United States explains the origins and development of the idea that God has a special plan for America. The benefits and costs of this idea deserve careful consideration.
Among the early praise for Providence and the Invention of the United States:

"In a work of admirable scope and learning, Nicolas Guyatt explores the transatlantic roots and multiple expressions of Americans’ understanding of God’s role in national life. He convincingly shows that providential ideas not only validated political goals but helped shape them, closing off some paths of development just as they opened others. Providence and the Invention of the United States is a superb contribution to our understanding of how American contested their national destiny from before the Revolution to the era of the Civil War."
--Richard Carwardine, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford

"Historians have long noticed that providential thinking played an important role in forging an American identity. Nicholas Guyatt does not dispute this notion but he complicates it. He shows that the idea of national providence, rooted in England but appropriated by American colonials after passage of the Stamp Act, became both a national consensus and a metaphor that served different political and sectional interests. Guyatt’s book is intellectual history at its best."
--R. Laurence Moore, Cornell University

"Nicholas Guyatt's study of providential reasoning is both well researched and capably argued. It goes much further than other scholars, including myself, have done to show how important the idea of providence was for almost everyone in the English-speaking world during the early modern period. But it also demonstrates convincingly that providence meant different things to different people at different times. This is a very good book."
--Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame

"With learning and concision, Nicholas Guyatt has elegantly historicized the amorphous traditions of American providentialism, that regrettably powerful habit of cultural hyperbole, by which Americans have located themselves in God's order. He is especially cogent in showing with what passionate disagreement Americans have imagined that order, which turns out to have been rather disorderly."
--Michael O'Brien, University of Cambridge

Read an excerpt from Providence and the Invention of the United States and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

Nicholas Guyatt is an Assistant Professor of History at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. He has another new book coming out soon: Have a Nice Doomsday: Apocalyptic Christianity and American Politics.

The Page 99 Test: Providence and the Invention of the United States, 1607-1865.

--Marshal Zeringue