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Mayflower: A Voyage to War Paperback – 29 Jul 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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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: 13 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 277,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘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.


Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
An excellent account of the first half century plus of the settlement of New England. We start with the Pilgrims leaving Lincolnshire for Holland seeking freedom to worship God according to their consciences. We learn of life in Holland and the hazardous decision to cross the ocean. Here their sufferings began. The ocean voyage was bad enough but being tricked by the captain of the second boat was among the other hazards.

As is well known, survival oh a hostile coast was only possible thanks to the co-operation of the friendly local inhabitants. It was a miracle that they survived the first winter. These people were like Cromwell, providentialists, who believed that God was watching over them by his providence. I do not think the author shares their faith but he writes with a sympathetic understanding of it including how the next generation lacked the vital faith of their fathers so later Puritans had the Half Way Covenant rather than requiring credible profession faith from church members.

Philbrick writes well. The book reads like an adventure story at times, especially during the hostilities of King Philip's war when the proportion of the population lost was far higher than any other war on U.S. soil. We also hear that the settler's victory was in part due to the help they received from Praying Indians, converts from the missionary work of John Eliot. The author is thankfully free from the modern trend of political correctness which would view Native Americans as saints and Pilgrims as rapacious colonisers. This is a fair treatment of the good and bad in both communities.I found it a moving read, especially when one read what William Bradford wrote late in life.

Fear not, poor soul, in God still trust,

Fear not the things thou suffer must;

For, whom he loves, he doth chastise,

And then all tears wipes from their eyes.
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Format: Hardcover
As I read Nathaniel Philbrick's brilliant "story of courage, community, and war" in 17th century New England, I recalled one of Charles Darwin's observations, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." That certainly proved true of those who established or later joined Plymouth Colony as well as of the natives who eventually found themselves at war with them. Of special interest to me is what Philbrick has to say about Benjamin Church, a carpenter turned Indian fighter whose maternal grandfather had sailed on the Mayflower. Church seems to embody the best of both groups: courage, decency, cunning, integrity, resourcefulness, and probably most important of all, being "responsive to change." Unlike so many others who have also examined 17th century New England, Philbrick does not think in terms of "heroes" and "villains," although he leaves no reader in doubt about Church's heroism.

I was also grateful to learn so much about King Philip's War. According to Philbrick, "When Philip's warriors attacked in June of 1675, it was not because relentless and faceless forces had given the Indians no other choice. Those forces had existed from the very beginning. War came to New England because two leaders - Philip and his English counterpart, Josiah Winslow - allowed it to happen. For Indians and English alike, there was nothing inevitable about King Philip's War, and the outbreak of fighting caught almost everyone by surprise.
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