Though he thriveth ordinarily well, yet he laboreth much

from Alan Taylor, American Colonies: The Settling of North America, v. 1:

Puritans were incorrigible doers, seeking out the preached word, reading the Scriptures, perfecting their morality, and proposing radical schemes for improving society and disciplining the unruly and indolent. To satirize Puritanism, the seventeenth-century dramatist Ben Jonson aptly named a Puritan character Zeal-of-the-Land Busy. Their prodigious energy expressed their conviction that godly doing manifested itself in those God had elected for salvation. One Puritan subtly explained, “We teach that only Doers shall be saved, and by their doing though not for their doing.” Because diligence and discipline honored God, Puritans labored even harder to perfect their morality and worship—and to extend both to others.

The Puritan movement especially appealed to residents of the most commercialized area in England: the southeast, particularly London, East Anglia, and Sussex. Puritans came from all ranks of English society, including a few aristocrats, but most belonged to the “middling sort” of small property holders: farmers, shopkeepers, and skilled artisans. The Puritan tended to be the self-employed head of a household, of whom Robert Reyce said that “though hee thriveth ordinarily well, yett he laboreth much.” Their own modest property put them a leg up on the impoverished and underemployed half of the English population.

The English Reformation and Puritanism in New England

The English Reformation

A. G. Dickens, The English Reformation (1964)

Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580 (1992)

Christopher Haigh, English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society Under the Tudors (1993)

Peter Marshall, Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation (2017)

Dairmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History (2003)

Richard Rex, “Disenchanting the English Reformation,” Los Angeles Review of Books (November 24, 2017)

Puritanism and Early New England

James Truslow Adams, The Founding of New England (1921)

Charles Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History, v. 1 (1935)

Patricia Bonomi, Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America (1986)

Francis Bremer, The Puritan Experiment: New England Society from Bradford to Edwards (1976)

Richard D. Brown and Jack Teger, Massachusetts: A Concise History (2000)

Bruce Daniels, Puritans at Play: Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England (1996)

George Francis Dow, Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1935)

David D. Hall, ed., Puritans in the New World: A Critical Anthology (2004)

Alan Heimert and Andrew Delbanco, eds., The Puritans in America: A Narrative Anthology (1985)

Perry Miller and Thomas Herbert Johnson, eds., The Puritans: A Sourcebook of Their Writings (1939)

Perry Miller, The New England Mind: From Colony to Province (1953)

Perry Miller, The American Puritans: Their Poetry and Prose (1956) — an updated version of the earlier sourcebook with Johnson, without their long introduction

Marilynne Robinson, “Which Way to the City on a Hill?New York Review of Books (July 18, 2019)

Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (2006)

Richard Ruland and Malcolm Bradbury, From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature, chapter 1 (1991)

Alan Taylor, American Colonies: The Settling of North America (2002)

R. H. Tawney, “Puritanism and Capitalism,” The New Republic (1926) and Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1922)

Max Weber, The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905)

Michael Winship, Godly Republicanism: Puritans, Pilgrims, and a City on a Hill (2012)

Michael Winship, Hot Protestants: A History of Puritanism in England and America (2019)

The cultural Cold War

Jamie Cohen-Cole, The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature (2014)

Greg Barnhisel, Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy (2015)

Loren Graham, Science in Russia and the Soviet Union: A Short History (1993)

Sarah Miller Harris, The CIA and the Congress for Cultural Freedom in the Early Cold War (2016)

John Krige, American Hegemony and the Postwar Reconstruction of Science in Europe (2006)

Stuart W. Leslie, The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial-Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford (1993)

Christopher J. Phillips, The New Math: A Political History (2014)

Carroll Pursell, Technology in Postwar America: A History (2007)

Gregory A. Reisch, How the Cold War Transformed Philosophy of Science: To the Icy Slopes of Logic (2005)

Giles Scott-Smith, The Politics of Apolitical Culture (2016)

Valery N. Soyfer, Lysenko and the Tragedy of Soviet Science (1994)

Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (1999)

Jessica Wang, American Science in an Age of Anxiety: Scientists, Anticommunism, and the Cold War (1999)

Duncan White, Cold Warriors: Writers Who Waged the Literary Cold War (2019)

Stephen J. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War (1991)

Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurtlizter: How the CIA Played America (2008)

Audra J. Wolfe, Freedom’s Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science (2018)

Audra J. Wolfe, Competing with the Soviets: Science, Technology, and the State in Cold War America (2013)

We like lists because we don’t want to die

Umberto Eco interviewed in Der Spiegel about his book The Infinity of Lists (2009):

SPIEGEL: Mr. Eco, you are considered one of the world’s great scholars, and now you are opening an exhibition at the Louvre, one of the world’s most important museums. The subjects of your exhibition sound a little commonplace, though: the essential nature of lists, poets who list things in their works and painters who accumulate things in their paintings. Why did you choose these subjects?

Umberto Eco: The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right.

SPIEGEL: Should the cultured person be understood as a custodian looking to impose order on places where chaos prevails?

Eco: The list doesn’t destroy culture; it creates it. Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists. In fact, there is a dizzying array: lists of saints, armies and medicinal plants, or of treasures and book titles. Think of the nature collections of the 16th century. My novels, by the way, are full of lists.

[…]

SPIEGEL: Why do we waste so much time trying to complete things that can’t be realistically completed?

Eco: We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.

[…]

SPIEGEL: You yourself are more likely to work with books, and you have a library of 30,000 volumes. It probably doesn’t work without a list or catalogue.

Eco: I’m afraid that, by now, it might actually be 50,000 books. When my secretary wanted to catalogue them, I asked her not to. My interests change constantly, and so does my library. By the way, if you constantly change your interests, your library will constantly be saying something different about you. Besides, even without a catalogue, I’m forced to remember my books. I have a hallway for literature that’s 70 meters long. I walk through it several times a day, and I feel good when I do. Culture isn’t knowing when Napoleon died. Culture means knowing how I can find out in two minutes. Of course, nowadays I can find this kind of information on the Internet in no time. But, as I said, you never know with the Internet.

The books of the century

Daniel Immerwahr has compiled a remarkable list of the bestselling fiction, nonfiction, and historically significant or critically acclaimed books published each year in the United States in the twentieth century.

from Michael Korda, Making the List: A Cultural History of the American Bestseller, 1900–1999:

The bestseller list […] presents us with a kind of corrective reality. It tells us what we’re actually reading (or, at least what we’re actually buying) as opposed to what we think we ought to be reading, or would like other people to believe we’re buying. Like stepping on the scales, it tells us the truth, however unflattering, and is therefore, taken over the long haul, a pretty good way of assessing our culture and of judging how, if any, we have changed.