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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War Hardcover – May 9, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this remarkable effort, National Book Award–winner Philbrick (In the Heart of the Sea) examines the history of Plymouth Colony. In the early 17th century, a small group of devout English Christians fled their villages to escape persecution, going first to Holland, then making the now infamous 10-week voyage to the New World. Rather than arriving in the summer months as planned, they landed in November, low on supplies. Luckily, they were met by the Wampanoag Indians and their wizened chief, Massasoit. In economical, well-paced prose, Philbrick masterfully recounts the desperate circumstances of both the settlers and their would-be hosts, and how the Wampanoags saved the colony from certain destruction. Indeed, there was a first Thanksgiving, the author notes, and for over 50 years the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims lived in peace, becoming increasingly interdependent. But in 1675, 56 years after the colonists' landing, Massasoit's heir, Philip, launched a confusing war on the English that, over 14 horrifying months, claimed 5,000 lives, a huge percentage of the colonies' population. Impeccably researched and expertly rendered, Philbrick's account brings the Plymouth Colony and its leaders, including William Bradford, Benjamin Church and the bellicose, dwarfish Miles Standish, vividly to life. More importantly, he brings into focus a gruesome period in early American history. For Philbrick, this is yet another award-worthy story of survival. (May 9)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Mayflower rethinks the events and players that gave rise to a national mythology about Pilgrims living harmoniously with their Indian neighbors. Instead, Philbrick tells a story of ethnic cleansing, bloody wars, environmental ruin, and the deterioration of English-Indian relations. While he introduces familiar elements, Philbrick also recasts well-known characters like Miles Standish ("Captain Shrimp"), William Bradford, and Benjamin Church. Most critics agree that he provides a well-researched, unbiased revisionist history (though we should note that for years many people have been reading about the environmental devastation of New England, the bloody Indian-English wars, and the less-than-pious Pilgrims). If not as gripping as the National Book Award?winning In the Heart of the Sea (2000), particularly the second half, Mayflower nonetheless provides a harrowing account of survival and, despite its grim themes, a celebration of courage.<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Nathan Philbrick does a great job of introducing familiar historical facts and then expanding on them and making this old story new. Highly recommend.
Conneticut and explains the whys and wherefore better. Nathaniel Philbrick wrote In The Heart of the Sea with such intensity... I did not find the same result with the Mayflower.
The history is roughly evenly divided between the struggles faced by the early Pilgrims and Puritans and the conflict which ensued, culminating in King Philip's War, named after the relatively minor local sachem that sparked the rebellion. Not surprisingly, the author paints the Native American tribes as sympathetic figures, and in many cases rightly so. However, it is likely easy for him to do so in his heated study, well sated by a good meal, safe and secure in his person and possessions. The early American settlers were not so lucky.
It is a common misconception to view the local inhabitants as a homogenous, cohesive unit, when in fact they were split between dozens of tribes, some friendly, others not so much. As the story reveals, many Native Americans switched their loyalties repeatedly, making trust a major issue. It is beyond dispute that the American settlers and their subsequent generations badly mistreated the Native Americans, however it is naïve to suggest that, given greater understanding and empathy, the two sides might have peacefully coexisted. The clash of cultures, lifestyles and beliefs, coupled with the increasing flood of new immigrants made the ultimate result inevitable.
All in all, a good accurate history lesson on a topic, though familiar in the broadest sense, not so much as it relates to the details. And as we all know, the Devil is in the details.