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The Wordy shipmates Response

April 10, 2012

In the beginning of Sarah Vowell’s book she mentions how most Americans get their history from popular sitcoms, and I think that she’s smart not only to realize this but to also begin her book with this fact. This statement allows for the reader to immediately connect with her as well as start thinking in their own mind where they’ve gotten their history from. This is a good start and also shows how Vowell is talking about history in the present rather than the past. She really uses her voice when she talks about different television shows that are pure examples of the history being taught to America. She puts in her own thoughts as well as her first impressions as if she was watching it for the first time. She also shows her voice and emotion around the section of how many Native Americans died because of diseases, the nine out of ten part she uses italics to show how surprised she was when she first learned this and tries to express how important this is to the reader. Vowell also uses stories from her own life that help the reader understand the different stories throughout history. Her use of telling the reader how she’s part Cherokee and the heirlooms she holds is something that helps not only with her voice in the book but also the fact that she knows what she’s talking about. Her research on history is more modern or at least she takes a modern look on it. I think that this helps people get through reading about history who might not be as interested in it as some others. 

Another area where it’s apparent that she is showing her research is through her stories about the different museums that she’s been to and her experiences there. She also uses the story books that she was taught as a kid to relate the history of America. Since history is literally all stories it is important that she does look at the storybooks that entail different sequences from history. By her relating these books that we may have heard about and then adding onto it with her more recent research on the topic makes it an easier way to get into that period of history. It is also her taste in words that allows her voice to come through; she calls leaders CEOs which add a little something more to the text. It also helps the reader understand how much responsibility or lack of responsibility they had. Personally I can’t handle history, I think it’s boring and it takes a lot of effort to get through. I’m not going to say that this changed my way of thinking and now I love history but what I was able to understand was easier to read than most history books. 


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