The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder, and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards by Ava Chamberlain(5 out of 5)

Do you like American History? I love history, but am the first out of the seat in the classroom waving my hand like an ignored judge in a hung jury when asked who loves World History over American History. A lot of the world history I’ve read is beset with incest, inbreeding, violence, deceit, adultery, sex with animals, and beheadings- all good stuff in the sake of a bloody good read. American history is a lot of war, boundary wars, slain presidents and leaders, etc. So jumping into this book, coming from that viewpoint? I didn’t expect to be unable to put this book down, and as usual, that’s precisely what happened.

Who is Elizabeth Tuttle? Many, including myself, didn’t know who the hell she was(That history degree. Shakes my head at myself). This slim volume throws quite a circus-like tent over her identity and role in history. More specifically, in the life of Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the most well-known theologian in Colonial times. You’ve heard of Calvinism? Blame Edwards. We find out all about his own tortured family history, full of madness, adultery, sudden and unsolved murders, through his grandmother. You learn all you ever wanted to know about New England families stretching from the 17th century well into the 20th century, and the legacy of Jonathan Edwards, even nowadays. The eugenicists leave the most lasting impression when you are reading through the book, for they are the people who used Jonathan Edwards and the extended family-including Elizabeth Tuttle- as their ideal, only to have all of this calamity unfurl and throw everything into chaos. You get a sense that those crazy Puritans had a good reason for being crazy and being somewhat ignorant to reality. I honestly, before this book, had no reason in hell to want to read more about the Puritans, Calvinism, hell, even Jonathan Edwards! Everytime I heard of Jonathan Edwards, I thought of the singer of the 1970’s song “Sunshine”..not the incredibly influential theologian. I am ridiculously glad I read this book and got to glimpse some more crazier than black sunshine American history. It means, not only did I learn something, but I also realize there are some crazies hiding in the backwoods of American history. It makes me want to explore more books like this. You won’t be sorry, picking up this book.

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~ by generationgbooks on November 23, 2012.

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