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A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the Myth of the First Thanksgiving Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st edition (October 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586483730
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586483739
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After reading this book, readers may finally fully understand the meaning of Thanksgiving as the Pilgrims first intended. Beginning with the religious movements in 17th century Europe, Hodgson gives a fastidiously researched description of the path that leads the Pilgrims to the new world to preach their godly message. Contrary to 19th century prints, Hodgson describes the Pilgrims at their first landing, not "with fife and drum, watched by cowering Indians, but staggering ashore, exhausted, drenched, and chilled to the bone." Establishing the colony was a brutal exercise. The Pilgrims endured "the starving time," and had to secretly bury bodies "so the Indians should not suspect how much the settlement was weakened." Hodgson follows the evolution of Thanksgiving into contemporary times, chronicling the rise of football as a Thanksgiving tradition, "almost as sacred as turkey and cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pie." At times Hodgson's attention to detail slows down the narrative, but balances it out with the tale on the high seas and the patriotism of the colonists.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"In this enjoyable book Hodgson shows how Thanksgiving has evolved from a noisy public festival into a more private, domestic affair." -- Guardian, October 21, 2007 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. Palmer on August 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I beg to differ with the author's assertion that there were no turkeys in early Plymouth. Governor William Bradford himself wrote in his history of the colony (Of Plimoth Plantation): "They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl THERE WAS A GREAT STORE OF WILD TURKEYS [my emphasis], of which they took many, besides venison, etc. " There are, in fact, many misconceptions about the "first Thanksgiving" but to say that there were no turkeys in early New England is simply not true. What better source than one who was present at the time?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Karen D. Herndon on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the book to be uneven..sometimes intriguing and other times extraordinarily dull. Having said that, I believe the topic to be important especially to educators, who invariably focus on the romantic rather that the authentic and who perpetuate this national myth. There are now several excellent children's books and even shorter and more readable articles in such reputable magazines as the Smithsonian that provide much the same information. I suspect that those who could truly use the information provided in this book will seek it elsewhere.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on June 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Godfrey Hodgson has written a compelling version of America's national origins which challenges many of our treasured elementary school teachings (and, for that matter, our national art). Many of the myths of the first Thanksgiving were invented by early pioneers as mid-1600's marketing literature, to convince others to join them in the hard New England environment and sustain the settlements. Early Pilgrims didn't want to start a new country in America, they wanted to remain English. They settled at Plymouth, but they didn't land at the famous Plymouth rock. To give thanks, their tradition was to fast, not feast.

Hodgson's book tells the tale of the first feast (at which there were no turkeys, cranberries, or pies), the tough first years in the settlement, the complex relationship between the colonists and the Native Americans, and, finally, the evolution of the Thanksgiving holiday over the centuries. The text is at times gripping and at other times plodding. Hodgson certainly has solid research and factual background, but not all chapters will pull the reader in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Hope VINE VOICE on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
British author, Godfrey Hodgson does a reasonably good overview of the Pilgrim (Puritan Separatists) movement to and early years in America. He does a good job of explaining the religious, cultural and political motivations of the times. He also presents the tension between the Pilgrim settlers and the Native Americans in a balanced way. The premise of his subtitle, "The Pilgrims and the Myth of the First Thanksgiving", does not seem to me to be correct. While some of the traditions of our modern Thanksgiving celebration have evolved over the years that is only to be expected. Perhaps his point is more the lack of historical knowledge among the general population regarding the events commemorated. He concludes: "It is good...to commemorate...the fragile miracle of plenty, in the small warm circle of family, the building brick of which all prouder towers have always been constructed."
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on July 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
English author Hodgson explains the myth of Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims were not actually called Pilgrims, but rather Separatists. They landed in Plymouth Bay by mistake. They were actually going to New York. Their relations with Indians were strained some of the time. The actual feast was more like a fast. When the Separatists did have a meal with the Indians, they did not have turkey and pumpkin piece, but probably corn and venison. As the United States became an older nation, these myths were started to show the nation in the best possible light. The reality was far different.

I commend the author for writing a history of the myth of Thanksgiving. Perhaps no American authors wanted to discredit a national holiday. Hodgson depicts the actural day of Thanksgiving as it was, not what myth made it into. More Americans should know the reality.
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By Timothy P. Scanlon on December 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
For those of us who haven't given up on reading American "history," having been, say, discouraged by childish romanticism covered by the books to which we were subject in grade school and high school, we're not surprised that much of what we've read is, well, silly. So this book, which provides evidence that the "Thanksgiving" of which we've read--and which has become a "tradition," never happened.

The author seems to explain where the myth came from. And some of the details are fascinating. Like, apparently the "turkey" is from this hemisphere, but not native to New England. The Spanish brought them up from Central America early in the 16th century. It was called "turkey" because of the route the English brought the birds to UK.

The relevant history, though, starts with the Reformation, that historical precedent which brought those "Pilgrims"--they didn't characterize themselves that way--to our shores. And I was impressed with the author's perception of the differences between Protestant sects; Calvin's influence on many is an important element of the migration, as anyone who's studied comparative religions knows. (Some of today's religious seem to suggest that there is a monolithic "Christianity" around with the US is shaped. That there is not--the divisions within the "Christians were formidable and many--and evidence suggests that the Calvinists are somewhat responsible for the "American exceptionalism" of which the author also writes is alluded to in the text).

Pertinent to this, the author puts John Winthrop, noted for his "city on the hill" quote, into context. Especially after Reagan paraphrased that phrase, it was misrepresented in the context of American history. That "context" is an important element of the text.
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