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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War Hardcover – May 9, 2006
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Beyond the fairytale images of "The First Thanksgiving", most basic American history skips from the Mayflower's 1620 landing in Plymouth the American Revolution, glossing over the rich and brawling century-and-a-half spanning these two events. Philbrick zeroes in on the first half-century, stripping away the myth and homily typically associated with the Pilgrims and laying bare a fascinating tale of courage and deceit, of trusts forged and broken, of politics, religion, brutality, and war. All the familiar figures are there - William Bradford, Miles Standish, Pokanoket Indian chief Massoit, Squanto, and Edward Winslow, but Philbrick focuses on less celebrated figures like Benjamin Church and Massoit's son Phillip, who while hardy household names today leave behind legacies that helped shape what would become a century later the United States of America.
This is a story ripe with opportunity for politically correct revisionism, but the author walks a balanced line, alternately praising and condemning the deeds and players of both the English and the Native Americans. We learn, for example, that near-starvation in the first two years had as much to do with the Pilgrim's failed experiment in socialism as it did with harsh winters and poor soil. This led Bradford to adopt a policy allowing each family to grow and hunt not for the "commonwealth", but for themselves. Thanks to Bradford's newly discovered spirit of capitalism, the colony is soon producing a surplus of food.Read more ›
Philbrick's account of the Pilgrims is a fascinating tale, and I'm not sure how much is new to me and how much I've just forgotten. The author starts with the Pilgrims in England and chronicles their beliefs, their escape to Holland, their grueling voyage, the establishment of Plymouth Colony and their befriending of the Pokanoket Indians and especially, their leader Massasoit. The first year was especially perilous and over 50% of the settlers died within the first six months. Some of the original colonists were not religious men (Strangers as opposed to Saints). But they quickly realized that they all had to work together to survive. One of the most remarkable achievements by the Pilgrims was the drafting of the Mayflower Compact. Before they even landed in the New World, these men recognized the need to set up a civil government in which all must agree to obey laws set up by their elected officials. Today, the Mayflower Compact is a "document that ranks with the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution as a seminal American text." The Pilgrims are also to be admired for their ability to adapt and they were willing to try almost anything to survive. In this way, they "proved to be more receptive to the new ways of the New World than nearly any English settlers before or since.Read more ›
Philbrick also manages to clearly tell the most often misunderstood part of the story, that of the Wampanoag tribes precarious situation when the settlers arrived. There was a first thanksgiving, and for over half a century the two cultures lived in peace. Then the world for both peoples exploded with a huge loss of life on both sides as the result. This sickening failure is held center stage in Mayflower. Philbricks wonderful descriptions of the early countryside is as realistic as anything else. I suspect that historians may find fault here and there throughout the novel, but for this reader, Mayflower is a terrific story about early America and the loss of so much promise.
I put down In the Heart of the Sea to quickly read Mayflower. As with other readers I am now a hooked fan of Mr. Philbrick and cannot wait for the next book. I predict Mayflower will be a run-a-way literary and commercial success.
The first 150 or so pages bring you from Leiden to Plymouth and recount the first years of the Plymouth settlement. Philbrick's account of the story behind the pilgrimage - including a regretably brief examination of the Leiden expatriate community - are enlightening, crisp and for many I suspect, new.
He leans a little too heavily on indian fighter Benjamin Church and the events surrounding King Philip's War in the second half of the book, and the narrative lags. Not only because it seems that in the martial history Philbrick finds himself, certainly not over his head, but, out of his element; but also because the war years begin to feel like a story further separated from the Mayflower/Plymouth one than Philbrick supposes or intends to show.
Philbrick's research and recount are impeccable and are taken in large part from his work with the native oral history of the time. This approach informs a new understanding of the motivations and explanations for the events that transpired beginning in the early seventeenth century and continued into almost the early nineteenth.
The English conquest of the New World was not only a triumph of technology, but was indeed the ascendancy of an economic system, as global capitalism and its realities and rigors began to exert themselves in an onslaught that continues through this very day.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some 35 million Americans today are to some degree descendants of the Pilgrims who came to America aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Victoria Weisfeld
Philbrick continued the story after the Mayflower with a fantastic rendition of the story of King Phillips War. It can only be described as superlative?Published 2 days ago by Leo Caisse
Very interesting in-depth account of our early faith-filled settlers. My direct ancestor was William Brewster, the religious leader of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower.Published 7 days ago by Don North
I loved this book. I was fascinated from start to finish, learned more about the REAL struggle that was involved in the formative years of our great nation. Read morePublished 18 days ago by R. Butler
I would buy this again swell as any book that he writes.. The author is a fantastic author!!!!!!!Published 1 month ago by Sc