Here is a snippet from the latest review of The Way of Improvement Leads Home. This one, which was published in Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, comes from Marcus Gallo, apparently a graduate student at the University of California-Davis.
John Fea’s well-crafted and readable biography of the diarist Philip Vickers Fithian shows how metropolitan culture from Paris and London tricked down to seemingly isolated rural colonists in the years before the American Revolution. Unfortunately, I could not bring myself to like the book’s principal character. Whereas Fithian’s detractors in the early twentieth century called him an “insufferable prig” (166), I could not shake the sense that he was just a phony, filling his journals with sentiments that he believed an enlightened gentleman of his era would hold. My personal distaste for Fithian aside, his published and unpublished writings demonstrate what Fea calls “the rural Enlightenment.