Making War and Minting Christians: Masculinity, Religion, and Colonialism in Early New England

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Making War and Minting Christians: Masculinity, Religion, and Colonialism in Early New England. By R. Todd Romero. (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011. Pp. xiii, 255. $26.95.)

When Anglo-American men beat their drums and carried their colors at the start of a battle in the Pequot War [1636-1637], they saw themselves as enacting a masculine show of force and order befitting of their gendered authority. Pequot warriors, however, could only respond with laughter at what they saw as a pompous and unmanly display. By adding a gendered analysis of masculinity, the long history of intertwined religion and warfare is given new treatment in R. Todd Romero's study of seventeenth-century southern New England. Romero's new book persuasively argues that "Native and Anglo-American conceptions of masculinity unfolded in counterpoint over the course of the seventeenth century and were central to the development of colonialism" (7). Native American and Anglo-American cultures of masculinity shared many similarities, but, as Romero observes, "they rarely recognized such commonalities, often focusing instead on differences" (20).

To build his case, Romero employs an impressive range of sources, including English print sources (published sermons, schoolbooks, execution sermons, promotional pamphlets, and others), material objects, and European observations of Native American customs. The book makes an important contribution to the existing bodies of scholarship on gender and colonialism, gender and religion, colonialism and gender identity, and to the literature on masculinity in early America.

Making War and Minting Christians is divided into three parts. The first focuses on gender and established Anglo-American and Native American definitions of manhood. The second examines the topic of religion with a special focus on missionary efforts that began in the 1640s. …