Murphy shows a clear understanding of who Bradford was and how he thought. He grasps Christian theology and how it would shape the man. His introduction was long enough to be informative and short enough that I did not skip it. It made me willing to read the book.
Kemp seems to be someone who has had a steady diet of Politically Correct Punch. Whereas Murphy is just identified as being from Smith College, Kemp has a grand and glorious title: Associate Director of Colonial Interpretation at Plimoth Plantation. I was so impressed that I almost didn’t bother opening the cover. Not only do we have a Director of Colonial Interpretation but we seem to need an Associate.
Kemp quickly appeals for accolades in his PC orthodoxy. Here is the second paragraph:
“Oddly, two things we won’t find here that we might most expect in a book dealing with William Bradford’s Plymouth Colony are Pilgrims and Indians. There’s a good reason for the absence of Pilgrims. That part of the story, the idealizing of colonists into Pilgrims (Pilgrims with a capital ‘P’) occurred in the late 18th and 19th centuries. But there’s no good reason that the Letter Book should show so little concern for the Native People. It’s a bad reason, a very meaningful omission.” p. iiiNow it didn’t take me long at glancing through the book to get the feel that these were not all letters by Bradford but it was a compilation of back and forth correspondence between him and others. More than half of the material is letters written to him, not by him. I have not read it yet but I would assume that when you respond to someone you don’t introduce a lot of extra material. If he was writing someone about a shortage of flour in their town I doubt if it would be the place for a long dissertation about the locals. Also, I would assume that the local Indians and his neighbors would not be writing him letters to respond to.
Years ago I learned to not read primary sources that have been edited if the editing means that parts were cut out. Modern editors have the attitude that is produced by being a Progressive*. They are people who know what you need to know and want to make sure that you do not misunderstand. Of course, it is all for your own good.
*(Liberals, educators, socialists, communists, elites, Rinos, Democrats, leftists, Never Trumpers, Antifa, etc
Bradford, William, et al. Governor William Bradford’s Letter Book. Bedford, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 2001.
homo unius libri