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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community,…

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Nathaniel Philbrick

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3,692941,423 (3.86)232
Title:Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War
Authors:Nathaniel Philbrick
Info:Penguin Books (2007), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Reviewed, Read but unowned
Tags:ultimate reading list - history, 17th century, America, American, Massachusetts, American History, Colonial America, history, Indians, King Philip's War, Mayflower, Native Americans, New England, non-fiction, Pilgrims, Plymouth, Plymouth Colony, Puritans

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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick (2006)


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Some 35 million Americans today are to some degree descendants of the Pilgrims who came to America aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Although the November sea voyage entailed hardships enough for the approximately 102 passengers and 30 crew members, these difficulties were nothing compared to what they encountered when they decided to go ashore in the relatively unpromising ground that became Plymouth Colony. This is their compelling story, and I listened to the audio version.
The Pilgrims’ greatest fear was the Natives, but their biggest foes turned out to be harsh climate and lack of food, which contributed to high rates of death from disease. Despite their early anxieties, the Mayflower Pilgrims developed a good and mutually beneficial relationship with the powerful Pokanoket chief Massasoit and some other tribes. Philbrick provides keen insight into what each leader was thinking when they made the choices they did.
Before long, other, less devout settlers arrived and mingled with the Pilgrims. In 1630, seventeen ships delivered approximately a thousand English men, women, and children to the vicinity of Boston, and soon the Massachusetts colony grew to include modern New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and the more religiously tolerant Rhode Island. Several of my ancestors arrived with prominent Puritans in 1634, settling in Boston, Salem, and New Haven. I wanted to read this book to find out more about what their lives were like.
This rapid influx created an almost unquenchable demand for Indian lands, and the settlers made the lives of Natives increasingly difficult. The children and grandchildren of the Pilgrims cared little for the aid their forefathers had received from the Natives. You can feel the rising tension and frustrations. In 1675, Massasoit’s grandson Philip had enough. He launched what became known as King Philip’s war—a bloody, three-year conflict, in which Colonial towns and Native camps were burned, and the area economy devastated.
In the sixty or so years covered by this book, a number of remarkable personalities emerge—among them Miles Standish, Josiah Winslow, Massasoit, William Bradford, Roger Williams, and America’s first Indian fighter, Benjamin Church. Philbrick’s descriptions of these men and their personalities makes them come alive on the page and lets you understand their motivations. The military leader Benjamin Church is a good example. Unlike some of his colleagues, Church’s first thought was not wholesale slaughter of the Native population, but rather he tried “to bring him around” to the Colonists’ way of thinking. This approach, Philbrick believes, became a precursor for the Founding Fathers a century later, as Church “shows us how the nightmare of wilderness warfare might one day give rise to a society that promises liberty and justice for all.”
If you are one of the 35 million noted above, you may find this book especially fascinating, as Philbrick recounts surprisingly detailed personal histories of a great many Mayflower passengers.
George Guidall is a frequent narrator of thrillers and many other types of books. He does a fine, job here with a straight narration. ( )
  Vicki_Weisfeld | Jul 22, 2016 |
Full Disclaimer: I am a bit of a history nerd.
American History...not so much.
I am always down to lodge intellectualized attacks against Western Civilization, however. What better fodder than the Pilgrims' treatment of Native Americans?
We all know Thanksgiving is a farce (National Holiday decreed by none other than Honest Abe). But what about 1620? The nitty grit of it - the 1st winter in Plymouth?
Philbrick spins a decent yarn. His style of prose is easily digestible and fully detailed. What stands out the most in this work is the depths of the colonizers depravity after the Native Americans' many kindnesses disappeared from their generational memory.
We all knew they sucked -- but not until reading this book did I learn the abhorrent degree of suckitude.
And I also learned a thing or two of succotash. Not the suffering kind.
You've got to read it for yourself - no spoilers here.
I enjoyed this book very much. Recommended. ( )
  apomonis | Jun 2, 2016 |
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War – Nathaniel Philbrick
Audio performance by George Guidall
3 stars

There’s more to our colonial history than a ship, a rock and a 3 day feast. It’s not surprising that a close look at the facts reveals more than the well-warn legends remembered from early elementary school. Philbrick gives a very readable of the Mayflower landing in 1621 and the continuing history of the colony through the rest of the century. George Guidall is an excellent voice artist, but as with other non-fiction books, I found it easier to attend to the printed text.

I was surprised at how often there was actually some factual basis for our national myths. The Native Americans did assist the Pilgrims! Of course it wasn’t always about simple human kindness. I’m sure I never knew just how severely European diseases had depleted Native populations even before the Mayflower landing in 1621. I was not surprised that the Pilgrims had no scruples about exploiting the native population, but I had not considered that Massasoit and Squanto had their own plans for grabbing power and influence.

Philbrick assembles his facts clearly. He kept my interest by pointing out the relevant and ironic connections to the development of the United States and to more recent history.

“In 2002 it was estimated that there were approximately 35 million descendants of the Mayflower passengers in the United States, which represents roughly 10 percent of the total U.S. population.”

And about the Mayflower Compact, “It is deeply ironic that the document many consider to mark the beginning of what would one day be called the United States came from a people who had more in common with a cult than a democratic society.”

And sadly: “ It has been estimated that at least a thousand Indians were sold into slavery during King Philip’s War, with over half the slaves coming from Plymouth Colony alone. By the end of the war, Mount Hope, once the crowded Native heart of the colony, was virtually empty of inhabitants. Fifty-six years after the sailing of the Mayflower, the Pilgrims’ children had not only defeated the Pokanokets in a devastating war, they had taken conscious, methodical measures to purge the land of its people.”

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
The author gives a very detailed discussion of the people who came over on the Mayflower, their community and their relationship with the Native Americans. Thanksgiving will never be the same for me. ( )
  addunn3 | May 21, 2016 |
A great book to read around Thanksgiving. It provides a detailed history of the pilgrims and the early colonies. It will change the way you look at the thanksgiving story. ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 25, 2016 |
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Nathaniel Philbrickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We all want to know how it was in the beginning. - Preface
For sixty-five days, the Mayflower had blundered her way through storms and headwinds, her bottom a shaggy pelt of seaweed and barnacles, her leaky decks spewing salt water onto her passengers' devoted heads. - Chapter 1
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L'histoire américaine , qui narre cette aventure comme une conquête âpre et glorieuse , a été en partie transfigurée par la légende . Le destin de la colonie de la Nouvelle-Angleterre prendra alors une autre tournure , plus complexe , troublante , foisonante .
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143111973, Paperback)

Nathaniel Philbrick became an internationally renowned author with his National Book Award? winning In the Heart of the Sea, hailed as ?spellbinding? by Time magazine. In Mayflower, Philbrick casts his spell once again, giving us a fresh and extraordinarily vivid account of our most sacred national myth: the voyage of the Mayflower and the settlement of Plymouth Colony. From the Mayflower?s arduous Atlantic crossing to the eruption of King Philip?s War between colonists and natives decades later, Philbrick reveals in this electrifying history of the Pilgrims a fifty-five-year epic, at once tragic and heroic, that still resonates with us today.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:45 -0400)

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From the perilous ocean crossing to the shared bounty of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrim settlement of New England has become enshrined as our most sacred national myth. Yet, as author Philbrick reveals, the true story of the Pilgrims is much more than the well-known tale of piety and sacrifice; it is a 55-year epic. The Mayflower's religious refugees arrived in Plymouth Harbor during a period of crisis for Native Americans, as disease spread by European fishermen devastated their populations. Initially the two groups maintained a fragile working relationship. But within decades, New England erupted into King Philip's War, a savage conflict that nearly wiped out colonists and natives alike, and forever altered the face of the fledgling colonies and the country that would grow from them. Philbrick has fashioned a fresh portrait of the dawn of American history--dominated right from the start by issues of race, violence, and religion.--From publisher description.… (more)

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