Thanksgiving (Revisiting New England) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $26.95
  • Save: $6.49 (24%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all itâ?TMs still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday (Revisiting New England) Paperback – October 30, 2009

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$4.94 $0.01

Frequently Bought Together

Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday (Revisiting New England) + Thanksgiving: The American Holiday + Thanksgiving: The True Story
Price for all three: $53.32

Buy the selected items together


Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at

Product Details

  • Series: Revisiting New England
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Hampshire (October 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584658010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584658016
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Baker has incorporated all the available research on Thanksgiving and enriched it with his unparalleled access to original sources as the former director of research at Plimoth Plantation. Most appealing about this book is that it has been produced by an expert on the topic, and one who is also a Plymouth, MA, native. He shows us how Thanksgiving is seen through each generation's reality, having morphed from a holiday for pilgrim hats and turkeys to a cause for Native American protests to a holy day to several ancient holidays combined and a full-scale orgy of food and football. Thanksgiving is not the holiday you think it is and will not be the holiday you know now in 100 years, but it can be whatever holiday you need. There is now a desire to make it an international holiday-Who knows? . . . . This is destined to become the accepted text for research on the history and myth of this most American holiday, and it will be an enjoyable, fascinating read both for students and for anyone looking for a good story.”—Booklist

“Baker traces how the [Thanksgiving] celebration has changed over the years. In the 18th century, Thanksgiving was viewed as a day for family reunions, and the Pilgrims were remembered as the symbolic founders of New England. But the connection between the two had been lost by the time George Washington issued the first presidential Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. . . Baker notes that the struggle over the significance of the Thanksgiving holiday continues, with historical accuracy often the victim of political advantage. But, he argues, ‘the holiday’s cultural vigor is actually demonstrated by the conflicts and debates that surround it.’ For, he observes, ‘debate indicates relevance, and the dispute over the appropriate role of Thanksgiving in American life demonstrates that the holiday is very much alive and still evolving.’”—Boston Globe

“James Baker, a former researcher at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, does not wag a scholar’s dour finger at what has become a turkey-and-football jamboree. But in his comprehensive and readable history of the holiday, he does remind us that Thanksgiving is more than ‘ubiquitous, mass-produced images of buckle-hatted Pilgrims, generic Indians, turkeys, pumpkins, and cornstalks.’ For the Puritans aboard the Mayflower, Thanksgiving was a religious service to acknowledge God’s providence. Its focus was prayer, not festivity. And while the Massachusetts Pilgrims did celebrate a harvest holiday in fall 1621 with friendly Wampanoags, Baker argues that this landmark event ‘meets none of the qualifications for an orthodox Thanksgiving.’”—Washington Post

“[A] thorough and readable history. . . . The actual purpose of this book is to prove once again that one of the nation’s beloved holidays is an ‘invented tradition,’ discontinuous in its history and varied in the types of ways it has been celebrated. Baker examines a vast range of cultural materials from postcards to children’s books to Hollywood films of the 1990s. There is evidence about how people actually celebrate this holiday, but it is not as important as the theme of myth-making and contested history. Baker demonstrates the commonsense; not just that myths take on a life of their own but that in speaking to ‘hopes and fears,’ myths are much more emotionally satisfying than truths.”—Journal of Social History


“For good or ill Americans have always considered themselves exceptional. This remarkable self image first appeared on a fall day in 1621 when the Pilgrims gathered ‘so [that] we might after a special manner rejoice together’ and reflect on the ‘special providence’ God had granted them. Their Native American guests watched bemused. Like ‘Camelot’ Baker writes ‘there once was a time when with the best intentions, two very different cultures came together.’ From that moment on Thanksgiving has become the most persistent, if not controversial, celebration in America. Perfectly historical (mythological?) and encrusted over the centuries in hyperbole and invention, it has nonetheless survived as one of the least pretentious of all our national holidays dedicated to simple fare and family gathering. No one but Jim Baker could unravel the true meaning of this holiday with such expertise and grace. By explaining ‘Thanksgiving’ Baker goes to heart of revealing American character." (William M. Fowler, Jr., Distinguished Professor of History, Northeastern University)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 3 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. M Young VINE VOICE on February 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book works very well as a companion piece to Diana Appelbaum's THANKSGIVING, but is an easier read without being simplistic. It also touches more on things like images, writings, and films about Thanksgiving, changes in menus in the intervening years, and parades and football games. The one thing that this book makes very clear is that the "iconic" Thanksgiving imagery of Pilgrims and Indians only became emphasized at the very end of the 19th century and during the early decades of the 20th, back when the United States became flooded with non-English speaking immigrants whom the schools wished to impress upon some idea of the country's heritage. Previous to that it was just a New England holiday which spread as New England residents moved westward, and involved reunions with family and friends. Even fiction about Thanksgiving before the critical immigration "flood" mostly emphasized reunions between estranged or long-parted relatives; Pilgrims and Indians were not mentioned.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to read more about the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and its changing face over four centuries.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Historyprof on November 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I haven't yet finished this book, but so far I really like it. The use of primary sources is excellent. The frustrating part is that the endnotes aren't hyperlinked within the Kindle text, and no true index is given to find the endnotes.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By Mike P on July 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very in-depth, informs you about the origins of our traditional Thanksgiving plus all of the other Thanksgiving during the nascent years of our country.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?