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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new look at an old subject
An excellent book. Nick Bunker's "Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History" offers a truly different look at one of American history's best-known and least-understood groups - the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation. Usually, upon hearing "Pilgrims" the first thought is of a bunch of tediously pious guys in funny hats eating turkeys...
Published on May 2, 2010 by Bruce Trinque

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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pile of threads does not a tapestry make
In lieu of the straight narrative history that so many reviewers erect as a straw man, Bunker provides thousands of often-very-interesting threads that he attempts to weave together into an evocative tapestry. Simon Schama did this successfully with "Citizens," his history of the French Revolution.

Unfortunately, Bunker falls short. All of the things he writes...
Published on May 9, 2010 by Charles J. Edwards


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So much detail (3.25*s), April 23, 2013
By 
J. Grattan (Lawrenceville, GA USA) - See all my reviews
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This verbose, tedious, and often scattershot book attempts to fill in the gaps behind the Puritan, actually Separatist, establishment of a colony at Plymouth in 1620. The author digs deep into many archives, primarily English, to add dimensions to the lives of those connected with this event. Unfortunately, the net result is not entirely successful.

Separatism can hardly be discounted as the under riding motivation for establishing a new community in the New World, but many English factors such as geography, locale, demographics, economics, domestic and international politics, etc came into play. The author leaves few stones unturned in the pursuit of the relevancy of these areas, at times to the point of testing the durability of the reader.

The amount of detail is both the strength and the weakness of the book. The detail is at times enlightening or overwhelming, often at the same time. The author's approach is a bit uneven, roaming across time and place as his various themes take him. Also, perhaps surprisingly, the actual Plymouth colony becomes only a small part of the author's story.
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20 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Make Haste Away from this Babble-On, June 19, 2010
I have to agree with Charles Edwards. It is charitable to call this book a history. It has no narrative, argument, or structure. One damn thing just leads to another and Bunker chases every tedious rabbit into its tiny hole. He even runs the thread literally through the bowels the dead King James I. (I'm not kidding. See the Chapter "Through the Entrails of the King." I fail to see how three full paragraphs on the autopsy of James I advances the case one inch.)

The recurring platitudes that suffice for explication of the new archival materials Bunker unveils are often embarrassingly of the see spot run variety. Conditions were changing. People were stressed. That sort of thing. So? His method is to ask a "why" question (why did Brewster become a Puritan?), run off into four archival factoids, and eight paragraphs later the reader can't remember what the question was.

Or consider this gem of a sentence, illustrative of Bunker's disdain for the reader's attention or time. "Come to Scooby by car, twenty minutes from the old railway town of Doncaster and you will see little that the Pilgrims might recognize and a great deal that they would not." I can do the math for myself, thank you. Why those last eight words at all?

This might be a "new history," as claimed on the cover, as explication of the book's title. That I would grant. New in the sense that its completely disconnected from anything like history that has gone before.

Bunker's explanation of his motive for writing the book is that he wanted to reclaim the old Puritan/Pilgrim experience for the English. Hmmmm. I tend to think that what he really wanted was to sell a new book in the American market. Sales are ever so much more robust with Mayflower Pilgrims in the title than they would be if Bunker had just invited the reader to go traipsing through a slew of musty English archives (and King James' bowels) with him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good transaction, November 2, 2012
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Item arrived promptly and in excellent condition. I checked out this book from the library, and found it so helpful, that I headed to Amazon to purchase it. Excellent book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great study of history, January 28, 2011
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This book really helps the reader understand the life and times of the world in the 17th century. How various events seemingly unrelated effect each other
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book that I will hold dear to my heart., March 4, 2015
As a soon to be published editor of a history, I must have the furthest appreciation for scholarly works. However as a reader of history, I have seen regurgitated histories, such as 1945 and Sir Richard Burton. To me to read first an excitingly researched book on Roosevelt and Taft, does not do justice to me to compare it with this wonderfully researched and extremely pragmatic, reason explored interpretation of the world of the pilgrims and how they persevered. The global environment obviously had an impact in eventual timing of colonization of Northeast America and by whom, especially the local home grown environments and experiences. P.S. The President should designate Indian Rock in Maine a national monument.

Stephen Howland Taber
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blurry focus, March 11, 2012
By 
Jerry Bunin (Oceano, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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I was so disappointed with this book that I stopped reading after 110 pages. I rarely fail to finish books I start.

The author spent too much time being eagle soaring above the countryside and writing what seemed more like a modern travelogue of the English landscape than the Pilgrims.

He didn't do a good job of weaving his ideas into a coherent, readable story. The writing lacked spark. I quit when I realized that I had no interest in slugging through 400 pages of boredom.

I obviously would not recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Document for an Understanding of the Colonization of New England, April 27, 2014
By 
Ken Russell (Nashville, TN, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History (Kindle Edition)
This book contains some of the most stunning visual imagery possible, along with a true picture of the very personal motivations of early separatists, as well as merchants, investors and religious factions of all persuasions. Nick bunker has contributed substantially to a more coherent understanding of this precarious time in English and early colonial history and economics. Brilliantly written! I await his next work with anticipation...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Detail, February 27, 2014
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One of the best though not an objective approach. Focuses only on the English POV which is okay but not comprehensive. However it is a good "follow the money" book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Cautious And Immensely Complicated, But Rewarding, History Of The Pilgrims In Their Proper Contexts, December 15, 2013
By 
Nathan Albright (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History (Kindle Edition)
As someone whose complicated family history includes some of the separatists who arrived in Plymouth before the founding of Boston as well as a large amount of people involved in serious Protestant religious activity as well as subversive and revolutionary political activity throughout Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, along with their consequences in places as far apart as Germany, Northern Ireland and the British American colonies, this is a book that speaks more than about matters of national and cultural history but also about matters of great personal interest that helped to shape and form my own personal story and my own complicated approaches to matters of religion, politics, and business. As someone whose life history deals deeply with the same complicated set of events as that discussed in this history, this book takes on a personal relevance and deep and melancholy resonance to me that it may not take on for other readers.

Reading this book is likely to make many readers realize that there is a lot more to the history of the Pilgrims than is commonly understood. This book is organized in a mostly chronological fashion, starting in media res, with a look at the passage of the Pilgrims from England to the New World, and then going back to the origins of Separatist behavior and placing it into its political and economic wider context as part of the Calvinist project throughout Europe, and ending in about 1630 with the firm establishment of Puritan America on a ground of economic strength and political stability in ways that were deeply fateful for both themselves and others. Given that this book contains more than 420 pages of text, this wider context is far wider than that taken by most examinations of the period and one that richly rewards the reader with a fascinating and enlightening glimpse of Jacobean society and its complexities.

Let us make no mistake: this story is complicated. The mostly obscure people who take their places as key movers and shapers of the Pilgrim project are a fascinating mixture of people full of passions and lusts, ambition and greed, military and espionage interests, mercantile activities, political subtlety, as well as sincere religious devotion. This is true not only for the Pilgrims themselves, but for more mainstream Puritans and even more mainstream Anglicans. The success of Puritan New England depended greatly on factors far outside of the control of the colonists themselves, including their creditworthiness in London, political crises over the legitimacy of the Stuart monarchy and its political aims at enforcing uniformity in behavior and thought at home while showing tolerance for exiling those outside of the mainstream in ways that enhanced England’s nascent imperialistic aims in India, Ireland, and North America, as well as the general crisis of Calvinism in Europe dealing with Arminianism [1] as well as the threat to Calvinism presented by French and German religious wars as well as the Dutch conflict with its erstwhile imperial master Spain in the early decades of the 17th century. Related to this are the rather ordinary and mundane histories of the lust, corruption, and social and economic ambitions of fairly ordinary English clergy, farmers, merchants, and tradesmen, all of which had their part to play in the Pilgrim story. This is not even considering the shamanistic worldview and political and demographic crises of the native inhabitants of Puritan New England themselves, which had their own part to play in the destiny of the Pilgrim’s colony.

Among the most consistent and enlightening of the conclusions provided by this most excellent volume is the essential nature of cattle and beaver skins to the survival of the Plymouth colony. Cattle provided fertilizer, a motivation to spread (which led to territorial and demographic growth), as well as food sources for the early settlers. Beavers, hunted in massive amounts to clothe the wealthy and fashion-conscious English elites of the age, were essential in helping to make England’s New England colonies profitable and sustainable. These factors are largely ignored in many accounts of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, and provide a great deal of balance to the great degree of importance of religion, which must be taken into account as well. This book manages to succeed through a mixture of excellent prose, immensely detailed and high-quality archival research and a close reading of often obscure primary documentation to come to a set of balanced and far-reaching conclusions that place the Pilgrims closely within their relevant social, political, economic, and religious contexts not only in England but in the European world as a whole.

Even though the author specifically disclaims any intention of drawing relevant conclusions from the history he has written, such conclusions are easy to find for those readers who are so inclined. Whether it is the immense difficulties of barriers to advancement, the rule of European society by ever more powerful elites who become wealthier and more powerful and arguably more corrupt while people suffer increasingly and struggle even to survive, much less improve their status, or the way in which the noble quest for individual freedom for religiously and economically marginal people with egalitarian religious and political beliefs led tragically and ironically to the expansion of exploitative imperialism and the theft of land as well as slavery and oppression on a global scale, or whether it is the fact that the divided state of both colonists and indigenous peoples led to immensely tragic results for both, this book offers a great deal of insightful but melancholy reflections for those who have such a reflective mindset. This book is a masterpiece of history, worthy of a wide and appreciative readership, but those of us whose lives have been deeply shaped by the same sort of forces that compelled the Pilgrims on their journey across the Atlantic cannot help but feel some sense of sadness and loss at how little our world has essentially changed despite all the passage of time between the age of the Pilgrims and our own age.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book - British View of US's Start, January 10, 2013
By 
Mike Herum (Helena, Alabama) - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent, very in-depth coverage of the pilgrims start. The book seeks to help us understand the generation leading up to the arrival of the Mayflower pilgrims. The author takes back to Queen Elizabeth and King James times looking at the political, social, religious and economic factors that lead to the "Mayflower Project". Nick Bunker writes from his personal research of many original documents shedding light on topics that had yet to be illuminated by prior historians. He takes on the journey of the difficulties, the ethics, the competing goals of various parties to this adventure in the "New England". The book is well worth the read and I highly recommend it.
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