Notice: Undefined index: HTTP_07BBAE8 in /home/accurate/public_html/wp-includes/template-loader.php on line 31
People of Prowess book review - Accurate Essays

People of Prowess book review

People of Prowess

            There would be no future without a history to look back on. The events that have happened in the past are more often than not, used to determine the way forward for the future. This is not only on political matters, but also on the social chapter of life. Sports, recreational activities and play also have their history. However, some of modern day sports started centuries ago, they have evolved over time to suit the present period. No longer is football played by kicking a bull’s head that is dripping with blood and some of the sports that were popular then no longer exist today. This could have been because of the development of other popular sports, which were enjoyable, or a dislike of other sports and games. Politics, religion and culture were important in determining the games that were played then and the recreational activities allowed. These activities then helped shape the sports culture.

The book “People of Prowess: Sports, Leisure and Labor in Early Anglo-America” written by Nancy L. Struna is a fusion of colonial history and sports in America. The book attempts to illustrate how sports were used socially and culturally in the seventh and eighteenth century. Struna’s meaning of sport goes beyond modern day understanding. She starts the book in early Britain where religion determined almost all aspects of life. For instance, she notes that dancing, bowling, pipinge and bull-baitings, which were considered recreational activities, had been prohibited by the church. Nancy writes the book from early accounts of other people. The book is not only meant for historians and sports historians but also for everyone who has an interest in sports and history.

She notes that in the seventeenth century, the people did not differentiate between some form of sports and labor since some of the activities that were considered sports also involved work. There is a difference however with the colonists’ view of work and leisure and the other skilled servants. The early immigrants had found it necessary to integrate leisure and work, a custom they had brought from England. The skilled workers did not have time for leisure and this limited the number of sports they could play. Slaves belonged to their masters and they did not have enough time to engage in leisure activities. During the day, they worked in the plantations and in the household, leaving no room for leisure.

Many historians may find her work objectionable, especially that relating to colonialists in America. Though she has in-depth knowledge of early England, the same cannot be said of colonial history in America. She only focuses on Chepasake and massachusettes and this contributes to many geographical and chronological errors and oversights. She only gives one view concerning work and leisure, citing that the wealthy Americans in Virginia preferred their servants to work all the time rather than setting aside time for leisure or recreational activities. She also claims that to the workers, some of the activities that the wealthy and noble considered recreational or games seemed like work to the workers. This view is only one-sided as she fails to prove her assertions.

Struna notes that the privileged in the society emphasized fair play and orderliness during recreational activities. What she fails to mention however, is the fact that in some of these activities, there was no order and some of them ended in fights and arguments. This was especially the case in early England before industrialization. She however does not leave out the fact that people participated in most of these games to display their physical prowess. This is unlike today where sports men and women play sports for other reasons such as money. Other sports, such as chess, are not a show of physical might and they are played as a measure and show of intelligence.

The author has extensively used various primary and secondary sources such as libraries, historical societies, museums and other institutions when researching her work. She has also used many literary sources especially those dealing with sports history. She has included the views of past sports historians such as Thorstein Veblen, Johan Huizinga and Allen Guttmann among others. She has also used many footnotes and this information gives her work credibility because she does not heavily rely on only a few related sources.

Her use of other people’s diaries makes her work unbiased though this may not always be reliable for historical purposes. Her writing style is also easy to understand. She has not used sports jargon, though there are instances where she has used old English with words such as hath, winneth e’re and neerer among others. However, this is because the book is composed of various diary entries and besides this, it shows how far she went to undertake her research. Apart from the historical concept which some may find too detailed, the book is easy to understand.

Today people take sports and games differently that they did before. Some engage in physical activities for health purposes. Most people today engage in other forms of recreational activities, which cannot be considered sports. Others enjoy playing sports and games as hobbies so to them they are a form of leisure. Struna does not just write another sports history book. She goes beyond what modern and past authors would attempt. Tracing sports to the seventh and eighteenth century England may prove to be a difficult task for many but she does this with relative ease.

Still stressed from student homework?
Get quality assistance from academic writers!

WELCOME TO OUR NEW SITE. We Have Redesigned Our Website With You In Mind. Enjoy The New Experience With 15% OFF