I found this website via a recent post by David Sehat at U.S. Intellectual History.
Ford Madox Ford once wrote, “Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.” The Page 99 Test website asks authors to turn to page 99 of their recent books and comment on what that page says about the work as a whole.
Since Was America Was Founded as a Christian Nation will not be out until late next week, I thought I would try this on my first book, The Way of Improvement Leads Home.
Interestingly enough, page 99 deals with Philip Vickers Fithian’s participation in the Bridge-Town Admonishing Society, a club for mutual improvement, the curbing of the passions, and moral development that embodies what I call the “rural Enlightenment.” Reviewers have told me that my idea of the “rural Enlightenment” is the book’s major contribution to early American historiography.
The rest of the page begins a discussion of Fithian’s invitation to serve as a tutor on the Virginia tobacco plantation of Robert Carter. Fithian’s decision to go to Virginia would result in the writing of a diary that has become a staple primary source for those studying plantation life in revolutionary-era Virginia. Fithian’s diary has made his name recognizable among early American historians. And, of course, the chapter on Virginia in The Way of Improvement Leads Home is absolutely pivotal to the book’s narrative.
So I guess the “Page 99 Test” does work!
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