The First American Evangelical: A Short Life Of Cotton Mather


Have you fallen prey to the prevalent misconception that Cotton Mather was the moralistic, harsh perpetrator of the Salem Witch Trials? If that is the case, you do not really know the man. Author Rick Kennedy takes us to the heart of the man and Mather is, in fact, a man worth knowing. Kennedy succeeds in a short biography at what some massive tomes can’t even deliver—a winning biography that is enjoyable to read and brings life to the subject.

I must confess that I came to greatly admire Mather by the end of this book. His faith was real. Though he worked at scholarly efforts on many occasions, he never lost his full confidence in God’s Word. He was in no way a fake. He was sincere in his home and ministry. The members of his church loved him and stood by him all his days. His faith was tested and stood as he buried 13 of 16 children and 2 of 3 wives.

Kennedy makes a good case that Mather is not the last American Puritan, but rather the first American Evangelical. He had only a cursory involvement in the Salem Witch Trials, but has had his reputation altered by a disreputable rival.

You will see just how good this book is in the first chapter entitled “The Pastor’s Study”. While that title may bore you, I have never come to know someone better in the first chapter before. The scene he draws is vivid and makes the study a vibrant place.

He doesn’t hide Mather’s weak points. He almost took his thoughts on angels too far. He relentlessly promoted his own books. His last marriage had problems and he always had trouble managing his own finances. All these things only made him real. The fine man remained. I simply loved this book!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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