A Princeton history professor explores how the Puritan John Winthrop's influential speech—"A Model of Christian Charity"—at New England's founding has been misused for nearly four centuries. Winthrop's famous remark that the colony would "be as a city upon a hill" has been quoted out of context to mean American exceptionalism rather than the warning a closer look at Winthrop's speech reveals.
Rodgers’ superlative book is an intellectual page-turner—a muscular examination of the culture and theology behind the 'Model,' a cogent study of the methods by which a nation gives itself meaning through the inventive interpretation of documents from the past, and a sharp-eyed accounting of how Winthrop’s 'city on a hill' phrase came to be used in modern political parlance ... One compelling wrinkle in the narrative is how Reagan’s speechwriters took the two-sentence section from the 'Model' that their candidate, and later president, had used many times in the past, and lopped off the second sentence.
Daniel T. Rodgers eloquently decodes four centuries of Western history in As a City on a Hill, in which myths and meanings of Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop’s 1630 'A Model of Christian Charity' are elegantly unraveled ... Erudite, clearly articulated prose arcs through a sweep of historical eras and ideological movements ... The volume ultimately leads to examination of what the American national identity is and should be. It points to a richer, more complex history than traditional textbooks have narrated, and Rodgers cautions that 'the work of constructing the society and nation we want lies in the present not the past.'
...a wonderful new book ... Rodgers devotes time to...minor details, not because they are hugely significant in themselves, but to alert us that the story has been embellished over the years and to prepare us to revisit afresh an episode from our past that we think we already know. Toward that end, Rodgers leads the reader through a thorough reading of Winthrop’s entire address ... there is...much that we can learn from Rodgers’s masterful history of America’s most famous, and most misunderstood, 'lay sermon.'