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The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family

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The Lowells of Massachusetts were a remarkable family. They were settlers in the New World in the 1600s, revolutionaries creating a new nation in the 1700s, merchants and manufacturers building prosperity in the 1800s, and scientists and artists flourishing in the 1900s. For the first time, Nina Sankovitch tells the story of this fascinating and powerful dynasty in The Low The Lowells of Massachusetts were a remarkable family. They were settlers in the New World in the 1600s, revolutionaries creating a new nation in the 1700s, merchants and manufacturers building prosperity in the 1800s, and scientists and artists flourishing in the 1900s. For the first time, Nina Sankovitch tells the story of this fascinating and powerful dynasty in The Lowells of Massachusetts. Though not without scoundrels and certainly no strangers to controversy , the family boasted some of the most astonishing individuals in America’s history: Percival Lowle, the patriarch who arrived in America in the seventeenth to plant the roots of the family tree; Reverend John Lowell, the preacher; Judge John Lowell, a member of the Continental Congress; Francis Cabot Lowell, manufacturer and, some say, founder of the Industrial Revolution in the US; James Russell Lowell, American Romantic poet; Lawrence Lowell, one of Harvard’s longest-serving and most controversial presidents; and Amy Lowell, the twentieth century poet who lived openly in a Boston Marriage with the actress Ada Dwyer Russell. The Lowells realized the promise of America as the land of opportunity by uniting Puritan values of hard work, community service, and individual responsibility with a deep-seated optimism that became a well-known family trait. Long before the Kennedys put their stamp on Massachusetts, the Lowells claimed the bedrock.


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The Lowells of Massachusetts were a remarkable family. They were settlers in the New World in the 1600s, revolutionaries creating a new nation in the 1700s, merchants and manufacturers building prosperity in the 1800s, and scientists and artists flourishing in the 1900s. For the first time, Nina Sankovitch tells the story of this fascinating and powerful dynasty in The Low The Lowells of Massachusetts were a remarkable family. They were settlers in the New World in the 1600s, revolutionaries creating a new nation in the 1700s, merchants and manufacturers building prosperity in the 1800s, and scientists and artists flourishing in the 1900s. For the first time, Nina Sankovitch tells the story of this fascinating and powerful dynasty in The Lowells of Massachusetts. Though not without scoundrels and certainly no strangers to controversy , the family boasted some of the most astonishing individuals in America’s history: Percival Lowle, the patriarch who arrived in America in the seventeenth to plant the roots of the family tree; Reverend John Lowell, the preacher; Judge John Lowell, a member of the Continental Congress; Francis Cabot Lowell, manufacturer and, some say, founder of the Industrial Revolution in the US; James Russell Lowell, American Romantic poet; Lawrence Lowell, one of Harvard’s longest-serving and most controversial presidents; and Amy Lowell, the twentieth century poet who lived openly in a Boston Marriage with the actress Ada Dwyer Russell. The Lowells realized the promise of America as the land of opportunity by uniting Puritan values of hard work, community service, and individual responsibility with a deep-seated optimism that became a well-known family trait. Long before the Kennedys put their stamp on Massachusetts, the Lowells claimed the bedrock.

30 review for The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family

  1. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    This is a wonderful overview of American History through the story of one family. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Masumian

    The Lowells of Massachusetts is the perfect book for readers who crave a better understanding of American history but who, like me, are not inclined to read “history books” or voluminous biographies. This exhaustively researched portrait of the Lowells, a prominent New England family, captures the events of America’s development from the 1600s up through the 1920s. The story describes the family’s emigrating to the New World, creating settlements, developing a free church and government, forging The Lowells of Massachusetts is the perfect book for readers who crave a better understanding of American history but who, like me, are not inclined to read “history books” or voluminous biographies. This exhaustively researched portrait of the Lowells, a prominent New England family, captures the events of America’s development from the 1600s up through the 1920s. The story describes the family’s emigrating to the New World, creating settlements, developing a free church and government, forging a vital industry, working to abolish slavery, fighting the Civil War, making improvements in higher education, and fostering the arts. The Lowells did all these things alongside thousands of other Americans determined through hard work and commitment to create a vibrant, free country. Following this remarkable family, one can see clearly how the United States, particularly New England, came to be. Nina Sankovitch skillfully handles the various strands of the Lowell family as they make their contributions to American society, and with her colorful writing and interpretative details, she manages to keep it engaging throughout. One section of the book I found particularly fascinating was the depiction of the crucial events leading up to the Civil War. I also enjoyed the sections about Amy Lowell, an early twentieth century cultural dynamo and remarkably successful poetess. This is American history as portrayed through one industrious and dedicated New England family. It’s quite an achievement.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    Super like this book! This somewhat fictionalised account of 300+ years of this family really brings you through a huge chunk of American history. The author makes you feel like you're right there with them, yet it doesn't feel overly fictionalised to the point you are no longer reading non fiction. I learned so much about the history of our country from this. Love love love.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Alvarez

    This was such a interesting read. It is about one family who came to the America early in her creation and became part of its history both for good and not so good. I did not know about them when I bought the book but had read a review. It was so engaging as with each new generation you learned not just about them but about their contemporaries and the world in which they lived in. I did not know that one of them was part of the Negro battalion that was featured in the movie "Glory" or that they This was such a interesting read. It is about one family who came to the America early in her creation and became part of its history both for good and not so good. I did not know about them when I bought the book but had read a review. It was so engaging as with each new generation you learned not just about them but about their contemporaries and the world in which they lived in. I did not know that one of them was part of the Negro battalion that was featured in the movie "Glory" or that they helped shape the university system which we all now know. What he started at Harvard spread nationwide. They were not all good that same university president suppressed the gay community at Harvard while his own sister was a lesbian and lived with a life long partner. I enjoyed learning about poetry which is not something I know about. I highly recommend this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    I think I'm in the minority here, so don't hate. I thought the book was filled with details but was not put together very well. I'm not a huge fan of fictionalizing history, and there was so much that the author had to conjure up into a story. I felt the timelines were sometimes a bit jagged and I couldn't always follow along, and all the John Lowells didn't help either (I understand that family names are not the author's fault). I was very interested in the family's part in the wars against the I think I'm in the minority here, so don't hate. I thought the book was filled with details but was not put together very well. I'm not a huge fan of fictionalizing history, and there was so much that the author had to conjure up into a story. I felt the timelines were sometimes a bit jagged and I couldn't always follow along, and all the John Lowells didn't help either (I understand that family names are not the author's fault). I was very interested in the family's part in the wars against the British and in the Industrial Revolution. I didn't get as much of the Industrial Revolution as I would have liked. I am glad, however, that the female members of the family got a larger amount of focus than often happens in family histories.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lucia Henderson

    Ms. Sankovitch's impressive scholarship has lovingly brought to life generations of the Lowell family whose members have been important participants in the history of America since colonial times. Although an amazing amount of research obviously went into the writing of this book, The Lowells of Massachusetts reads like a novel with fully-developed characters you come to know, admire, love and mourn. I highly recommend this book, not only to everyone with an interest in American history, but to Ms. Sankovitch's impressive scholarship has lovingly brought to life generations of the Lowell family whose members have been important participants in the history of America since colonial times. Although an amazing amount of research obviously went into the writing of this book, The Lowells of Massachusetts reads like a novel with fully-developed characters you come to know, admire, love and mourn. I highly recommend this book, not only to everyone with an interest in American history, but to anyone who enjoys a compelling family saga.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This was an absorbing and beautifully written book. Given current events, it was an eerie reminder of all that our country has endured and how we persisted. My only problem was certain liberties that I presume the author took in telling us what a certain person was thinking at a particular time. It is tricky because you want to present a three-dimensional portrayal but, at the same time, it is crucial to be bound by the sources and use them as you guide.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Loretta Marion

    As a transplant to New England from the Midwest originally, I wasn’t aware of the Lowell family. This book was very well written and researched and read like a novel, which is exactly the type of biography I enjoy reading. The Lowells were a very interesting and admirable family and the author does an excellent job capturing their story through three centuries. They were all so accomplished and I especially enjoyed reading about the Lowell women. Well done.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I loved this highly readable history of the Lowell family from their emigration from England to the early 1900s.TheI book was a lively review of American history, and I learned a lot about a number of distinguished and highly productive American citizens. Now one of my book clubs is going to read it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Massanutten Regional Library

    Elizabeth, Central patron, August 2019, 5 stars: I loved this highly readable history of the Lowell family from their emigration from England to the early 1900s. The book was a lively review of American history, and I learned a lot about a number of distinguished and highly productive American citizens. Now one of my book clubs is going to read it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Evans

    Having visited Lowell Mass it was nice to read about it's namesakes. I really enjoyed the colonial era of the Lowells. This book is well researched and enjoyably written. Many thanks to the author for reading all those letters.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    A wonderfully written historical novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story shows how passionate the author was about the subject, as the research is so rich, detailed, and well developed. Excellent book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carole Kleinknecht

    400 years of American history through the lives of a distinguished family. I learned so much, and this is one of my favorite authors. Her first book, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, is one of my all-time favorites.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    Kind of a tedious read but the Lowell family members were unique in so many ways and were intertwined in so much Massachusetts and US history. Still a worthwhile read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mae Chaplin

    I enjoyed this history of a fascinating American family.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pansy

    A well written and satisfying biography of generations of a prominent New England family. Generous use of both imagination and research made this an enjoyable read. Great historical context.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this story about a quintessential American Family.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Linda DiMeo Lowman

    It took me a month to read this book. It's so dense with Lowells and Cabots and men named John and at least a hundred other characters and covers the first settlements in Massachusetts from Britain through the WWI. I think the author would have been better served if she's covered a shorter period of time using less characters. Parts of the book are fascinating, especially the early settler portions and the sections on Amy Lowell, the poet and lesbian. I found the writing good, but there are abru It took me a month to read this book. It's so dense with Lowells and Cabots and men named John and at least a hundred other characters and covers the first settlements in Massachusetts from Britain through the WWI. I think the author would have been better served if she's covered a shorter period of time using less characters. Parts of the book are fascinating, especially the early settler portions and the sections on Amy Lowell, the poet and lesbian. I found the writing good, but there are abrupt shifts from one character to another to another and shifts in time and I found it hard to keep up. It did peak my interest in early American settlement and the poet, Amy Lowell. I will want to read more about these two topics in the future.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leila Sky

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maryellie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sybil Finemel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tori

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Diozzi

  26. 4 out of 5

    judy fleming

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh

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