BOOK REVIEWS – What Readers Say about PURITANS, PLAGUES, AND PROMISES
Historians, scholars, and genealogists are going to love this book. The narrative style of writing is engaging and the level of detail throughout is exceptional. Great job! Jeff Evans, Professional Indexer.
As a descendant of Jane (Yates) (Clarke) Collier, through daughters born to both her Clarke and Collier husbands, I am more than a bit biased in my interest. It was difficult waiting for my chance to read Bill’s book. Bill’s excellent articles in the Mayflower Descendant (Volumes 69 and 71) had introduced me to details of the Yates, Clarke, Arnold, Collier, and Cole families. But those detailed research articles were just an appetizer to the meal which is this book. Bill does an excellent job in establishing a series of themes and then making history come to life through stories involving a series of interconnected people who lived out that history. Bill’s approach includes weaving plenty of details into the story he has crafted. While on my first pass through the book, I found myself drawn to hasten my pace, having made the decision that I would be rereading this book to be able to spend sufficient time on the notes and excerpts from the historical documents which Bill had so painstakingly included in this book. As a descendant and researcher of these people, I also know that my copy of this book is going to become flagged with many post-it notes highlighting all sorts of things. Ronald E. Benson Jr., Ph.D., genealogical researcher and author [including “Discovering more about Lieutenant Marcus Cole…” Nutmegger (Vol. 45), and “Philip and Chloe (Cole) Goff…” OGSQ (Vol. 54)].
Having a family tree is good, but telling an ancestor’s story breathes life into the names, dates, and places representing a real person. Bill’s book masterfully shows how this is done. He skillfully weaves the fabric of his 16th and 17th century Cole ancestors’ lives and makes one feel what it was like to be a Puritan in those perilous times. After numerous close calls with the authorities and plagues, the Coles decide the best course of action was to get the family to the emerging Plymouth Colony. He fixes a clear image of that experience on the reader’s mind where once there was a hazy idea. Highly recommended. Michael Cole, retired Brigadier General, U.S.A.F.
Beginning in the small English village of Weedon Bec with an introduction to a previously unknown ancestor, Bill Cole grabs his readers and leads them on a journey through time and English history. As we follow the Cole, Clarke, and Collier families from England to America, it becomes clear that like all of us, we are shaped by events around us. An excellent storyteller, Bill is meticulous in his research, and thorough in his description of the times. He certainly “cracked the code” of the elusive Cole family and more. I highly anticipated this book on many fronts: as a personal family historian, archivist, Mayflower descendant, avid reader and yes, Cole descendant. Puritans, Plagues and Promises did not disappoint! Patricia M. Donohoe, former Vice President, Eastham Historical Society.
I just completed a first quick read of your book, and I found it compelling, informative, and frankly, quite a lot of fun to read! Your attention to detail in establishing historical context is quite unlike any other book I’ve read, and I am impressed by the care and clarity of your presentation. Your empathy, both thoughtful and deep, is an obvious critical key to your success in turning ink upon paper into living, breathing history. I applaud you. “Puritans, Plagues, Promises” by a Passionate Genealogist. Perfectly phrased! . . . Congratulations on your superb accomplishment! Roger Cole
I am one of several genealogists who researched the Cole, Clark, and Collier families as thoroughly as possible over the years, based on documents then available. In his rigorously researched new book (Puritans, Plagues, and Promises), the author reveals new historic facts that tied off many loose in ends that stymied others. A well-organized and scholarly work, it is nonetheless easily understandable, offering a fascinating “read”. It will certainly be of great value to anyone interested in the period of the Puritan Migration and early American history. Cole has made a valuable contribution to the field of genealogical study by expanding what is known of three notable families and conditions endured by early New England settlers. David Charles Cole, author, The Cole Family in America, published in 2007.
I found it to be a gripping read. You have achieved a style that I did not think was possible. My overwhelming reaction is what a privilege and honour it is to be associated with your project and indeed the final product. I hadn’t realized how extensively you were also reading around the subject. Nicola Waddington, Archives Alive, Canterbury, England – Nicola has been the author’s research partner for eight years. Without her valuable expertise, many of the findings would not have been possible.
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