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Mayflower: A Voyage to War [Paperback]

Nathaniel Philbrick
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: £10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 July 2011

Bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick reveals the darker side of the Pilgrim fathers’ settlement in the New World, which ultimately erupted in bloody battle some fifty years after they first landed on American soil.

Behind the quaint and pious version of the Mayflower story usually taught in American primary schools is a tumultuous and largely untold tale of violence, subterfuge and epic drama.

For amidst the friendships and co-operation that sprang up between the settlers and indigenous people, whose timely assistance on more than one occasion rescued the Pilgrims from otherwise certain death, a dark conflict was brewing. It erupted in King Philip’s war, a terribly bloody conflict which decimated the English population and all but obliterated the Wampanoag.

Following the Pilgrims from their perilous journey from England on a battered, leaky ship, through their first bitter North American winter (during which half of them died), to their equally bitter battle against the native Wampanoag tribe, Philbrick paints a vivid and panoramic picture of conflict and colonialism, co-operation and betrayal. In so doing he brings to life a cast of compelling, even heroic, characters, and sets the scene for the development of the American nation.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (29 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007151284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007151288
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Living history at its best. Engaging and enthralling.’ The Times

‘Philbrick spins a fascinating and richly complex tale. A champion sailor himself, he excels at seafaring scenes…“Mayflower” is an earnest, engaging and spirited work.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Brilliantly constructed. This is more than a small, forgotten war in the first days of America’s development. It is a case study in folly, fear and ignorance…enthralling.’ Observer

A sweeping narrative history.’ Financial Times

About the Author

Nathaniel Philbrick is a historian and broadcaster who has written extensively about sailing. He is Director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies on Nantucket Island, and a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association. He was a consultant on the movie ‘Moby Dick’. Aged 50, he has lived on Nantucket with his wife and two children since 1986.

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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your father's Pilgrims. 31 July 2007
By maya j
I wasn't sure what to expect from 'Mayflower'. It had been rated as one of the best books of the year by a number of book sellers, but sometimes reading an historical novel can be quite dry and boring- who knew it could be this interesting!

To begin with, I am certain so much of what is written in this book is unknown to most people. The story of the Pilgrims has become so commonplace and hackneyed that I don't think many of us even realize what the Pilgrims were really trying to accomplish by immigrating to North America. This book puts to rest any misconceptions, romantic notions or misperceptions about this group of people called the Pilgrims. It attests to the brutal nature of the world during that time and the sometimes-horrible things a people must do to survive. The fact that any of the Pilgrims actually lived through their first few winters on this continent is truly amazing and speaks to their strong stock.

'Mayflower' begins by documenting the decisions faced by these people in England to start their lives over again in a totally different "world". Freedom of religion was their most overriding reason for wanting to begin anew. They needed a place to live and worship free from persecution. The horrific voyage and their landing on the North American shore are all laid out very vividly, and there are side stories and anecdotes about the people and their families, making it possible to have a real connection to the story. In writing about the Native American tribes in the area surrounding Plymouth Colony, it is obvious Nathaniel Philbrick has done his homework. He speaks in excruciating detail about these tribes, their leaders and particularly about their wartime strategies and nomadic ways.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unraveling a Myth 18 Oct 2007
By Bentley
" Wherever they first set foot on the American continent, it wasn't Plymouth, and it certainly wasn't Plymouth Rock. The first Thanksgiving (in 1621) was indeed attended by Indians as well as Pilgrims, but they didn't sit at the tidy table depicted in Victorian popular art; they "stood, squatted, or sat on the ground as they clustered around outdoor fires, where the deer and birds turned on wooden spits and where pottages -- stews into which varieties of meats and vegetables were thrown -- simmered invitingly."

- Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

How many of us grew up with myths about the Pilgrims and about the first Thanksgiving? We all believed that the Pilgrims and the Indians sat at a beautiful table laden with turkey, cranberries and all of the fixings. Not only was that not the case, they certainly didn't set foot on Plymouth Rock.

Philbrick puts these myths to rest. And he tells us about the beginning of our new country and what was the basis for its foundation. Our myths contained stories about Massasoit and Squanto, Bradford and Winslow and, of course, Miles Standish.

One of the major accounts in the book was that of the King Philip's War. We learned that it really did not have to be. Both sides could have developed solutions which respected the goodness in each other as well as the differences.

We learned about how the Indians were shipped off to foreign places during this war and were separated from all of their families and tribes....never to be heard from again (having been made slaves). Only a few ever made it back like Squanto, for example.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Plymouth Rock to King Philip's War 5 Oct 2007
The story of the Pilgrims is a familiar one. Struggling for religious freedom, a small group of Puritans left their homes and traveled to the New World where they hoped to build a new life. Arriving in New England, they were saved from hunger and the cold of winter by friendly Native Americans. They celebrated by starting the tradition of Thanksgiving. Actually, that isn't quite the way it happened. First, less than half the passengers of the Mayflower were Puritans. And it wasn't really religious freedom they were struggling for but rather the ability to force everyone to follow their religion. Ultimately, the Pilgrims did make friends with the Native Americans but it was not an easy change for them to accept the "heathen" and not all tribes in the area were friendly.

But this book is not simply about those first few years in the New World. Just one generation after the arrival of the Pilgrims, just 100 years before Lexington and Concord, the bloodiest war in the history of North America was fought. King Philip's War saw the slaughter of 15% of the Native Americans in New England with many more sent off to the Caribbean into slavery. The Pilgrim population was also decimated (one in ten white men died) leaving the Pilgrims poorer and less able to defend themselves ultimately forcing them to ask for a Royal Governor to protect them.

This book is the story of how the children of the Pilgrims ignored the lessons learned by their parents and turned against the Native Americans who had saved the Pilgrims from starvation and how by doing so, they ultimately ruined themselves. Philbrick tells the story clearly and looks at events from the side of the settlers as well as the Native peoples.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit dull
I thoroughly enjoyed the first part of this book which explains why the pilgrims came to America and how they set their society up. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr Gordon Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Quick service and a book that was in excellent condition, Nathaniel Philbrick always makes a good read regardless of the subject.
Published 10 months ago by steve Jackson
4.0 out of 5 stars Shatters a fair few myths about the Pilgrim Fathers...
I've always enjoyed Nathaniel Philbrick's books; he has a way of turning complicated history into an engaging narrative, and this book on the Pilgrim Fathers is no exception. Read more
Published 17 months ago by C. Ball
4.0 out of 5 stars The "real" Thanksgiving
Every American knows the story of the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving. A group of Puritans escaping religious persecution set sail for America and land on Plymouth Rock. Read more
Published on 13 Oct 2012 by R Helen
4.0 out of 5 stars Thanksgiving: the "real" story
Every American knows the story of the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving. A group of Puritans escaping religious persecution set sail for America and land on Plymouth Rock. Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2012 by R Helen
4.0 out of 5 stars A Story of Settlers and Indians
"Mayflower" is the story, not just of a ship and the Pilgrims who sailed on it, but of a Pilgrim people, those who followed them, the Natives with whom they met and interacted and... Read more
Published on 1 May 2012 by James Gallen
5.0 out of 5 stars pilgrims
This excellent book gives a good account of the trials and tribulations that happened before and after the sailing ,in 1620, of the Mayflower with its Pilgrim passengers. Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2012 by G.I.Forbes
5.0 out of 5 stars Colonial History - The unedited version
Following the group of English separatists, that would become to be known as the Pilgrims. From their exile firstly to Amsterdam, then Leiden, Holland. Read more
Published on 21 Jan 2012 by Sue-A
5.0 out of 5 stars a truly great book
This is a terrific book, with real (and surprising) insight into the creation and settlement of a New World, a new European civilisation. Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2012 by Laura Quigley
4.0 out of 5 stars Colonial mis-management.
Don't expect to be entertained, but DO expect to be educated and enlightened - this is all I expected and more ... Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2011 by Amazon Customer
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