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

af Nathaniel Philbrick

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4,6291121,758 (3.88)269
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.… (mere)
Nyligt tilføjet afprivat bibliotek, Beemerdeployed, dstephenc759, JBundy, KDmathews, travisjc34, ECLangham, OMrebels, Jyvur_Entropy, Camusa
Efterladte bibliotekerTim Spalding
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Engelsk (108)  Fransk (1)  Alle sprog (109)
Viser 1-5 af 109 (næste | vis alle)
This is a lackluster rating from me; I'd rather give it 2.5 stars. It started out strong and then felt flat and repetitive once the war started. Maybe I just don't enjoy reading about the details of war. The battles all sound the same to me, and I don't care about each small group's movements, who fired a musket, who escaped for the umpteenth time, ad nauseum. However, the first half of the book was very interesting and showed how realistic the Pilgrims' story was compared to our whitewashed myth. I also really enjoyed the narrator for this audiobook; he was the perfect diction and tone for this historical nonfiction without being stuffy. ( )
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower re-examines one of the founding narratives of the United States to demythologize the Pilgrims’ settlement in Massachusetts in 1620, focusing on how the journey itself developed among European religious conflict and how the Pilgrims came into conflict with the Native Americans on whose land they settled. At the beginning of his narrative, Philbrick alternates between the actions of the Pilgrims in England and Leiden and the political status of the Pokanokets, one of the members of the Wampanoag, in Massachusetts following intermittent contact with prior Europeans and the ravages of disease. Rather than settling an untouched wilderness, the Pilgrims arrived in a land that had just emerged from a holocaust due to European diseases (pgs. 96-97), with the various groups in the Wampanoag confederation re-evaluating their alliances and territorial claims. As Philbrick writes, “In 1620, New England was far from being a paradise of abundance and peace. Indeed the New World was, in many ways, much like the Old – a place where the fertility of the soil was a constant concern, a place where disease and war were omnipresent threats. There were profound differences between the Pilgrims and Pokanokets to be sure…, but in these early years, when the mutual challenge of survival dominated all other concerns, the two peoples had more in common than is generally appreciated today” (pgs. 108-109).

Rather than a narrative of inevitable European conquest, Philbrick portrays how they were, for a time, simply another political power in northeastern North America. In aligning himself with the Pilgrims and gaining their loyalty, Massasoit became the supreme power in Massachusetts and established the Wampanoag nation (pg. 142). Further, “In the forty years since the voyage of the Mayflower, the Native Americans had experienced wrenching change, but they had also managed to create a new, richly adaptive culture that continued to draw strength from traditional ways,” incorporating European goods and spirituality into their lives (pg. 172). Unfortunately, the arrival of the Puritans shifted the politics of the region. Where the Pilgrims sought to create a self-contained enclave, the Puritans expanded throughout New England, coming into greater and greater conflict as they bought as much land as possible, leading to King Philip’s War.

Philbrick concludes, “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” (pg. 307). Further, “By doing their best to destroy the Native people who had welcomed and sustained their forefathers, New Englanders had destroyed their forefathers’ way of life” (pg. 308). Philbrick’s account is essential reading for all who are interested in a deeper understanding of one of the founding myths of America. This Folio Society edition beautifully reprints Philbrick’s text with curated images from historical sources as well as several maps throughout. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Oct 30, 2020 |
Author of one of my most favorite history books ( )
  MarianneAudio | Aug 22, 2020 |
Philbrick is at his best with character and sustained narrative events ie. a singular story. His best book is In the Heart of the Sea for that reason it lends itself well to his strengths. In Mayflower we also get this for the first half of the book - the Pilgrims journey and settlement at Plymouth. The first weeks are enthralling as they explore their way around the Cape, I followed them with Google Maps. At some point the narrative speeds up and fragments, then we are into the second half mostly about King Phillip's War a few generations later. The war itself is told through highlights of battles. There is some mythology debunking, like Thanksgiving. And we learn it is estimated 10% of the US can trace a line to the Mayflower. The Indians seem fairly portrayed, though a sad story. The epidemics that preceded settlement are the main tragedy, played out in North and South America at scale and beyond comprehension, as the worst things are. I never realized how important the city of Leiden is to American history. Great introduction to a vital part of early American history. ( )
1 stem Stbalbach | Aug 6, 2020 |
I read this alongside the version abridged for a YA audience, which my children and I read together, to prepare for a trip to Plimoth Plantation. I was very impressed at Philbrick's ability to present the story of the European colonization of New England and the near-extermination of the Native population in a manner that expressed empathy for both the Pilgrims and the Natives. Philbrick's position is that, after fifty years of peace and cooperation, multiple missteps, misunderstandings, and a change in philosophy among the children of the Mayflower Pilgrims led to a situation in which war was inevitable.

Some rather scattered items of interest from the book:

-"Winslow explained that these Native men, women, and children had joined in an uprising against the colony and were guilty of 'many notorious and execrable murders, killings, and outrages.' As a consequence, these 'heathen malefactors' had been condemned to perpetual slavery." John Locke in his 1689 Two Treatises of Government used this same rationalization for slavery of an entire race, using the situation in the New World as an example. When I first read this, I thought Winslow and his fellows had used John Locke as a reason for the enslavement of Native Americans, but based on the dates, it seems to be the opposite.

-Despite being the "fathers of our country," and themselves escaping religious persecution in England, the Pilgrims didn't believe in religious liberty. "As far as they were concerned, King James and his bishops were wrong, and they were right," and as long as they were making the rules in the New World, everyone had to follow them, regardless of their religious convictions. We see echoes of this element of Puritanism in our culture even in the twenty-first century.

-Of the next generation's difference in philosophy from their parents': "No longer mindful of the debt they owed the Pokanokets, without whom their parents would never have endured their first year in America, some of the Pilgrims’ children were less willing to treat Native leaders with the tolerance and respect their parents had once afforded Massasoit." This is a reminder of how forgetting history influences the context of our present situation, which, of course, is relevant during all periods of history.

-I knew that there were massacres of Native populations, but what surprised me was how much Bradford's graphic description of the massacre of the Pequots in Connecticut and his connection of that killing to the praise of God sounds like human sacrifice: "'It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same,' Bradford wrote, 'and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God.'"

-Philbrick asserts that part of the reason that the English and the Native population couldn't understand one another's perspective was because there was essentially no intermarriage between the groups and therefore no children to "provide them with a genetic and cultural common ground." Considering the US's historical bias against miscegenation, I'm not sure such children would have been enough to bind these groups together.

-The way the stories had always been presented in my history classes, it seemed always to have been "the Indians" against "the colonists/Pilgrims/English." But Philbrick's history makes it clear that the Native tribes and subgroups were distinct entities, and they assumed that the different groups of colonists were as well. It was the colonies' joining forces against the entire Native population that made what would have been a regional/local disagreement into a race war (which echoes again in the work of John Locke). This is a paradigm shift so huge and yet so obvious that I still feel a little disoriented.

-The central Massachusetts town where I live is nearly seventy miles from Plymouth, and yet the fighting during what's known as King Philip's War extended all the way out here. Even more surprising, the fighting actually extended all the way out to Hadley and Northampton in western Massachusetts. I had no idea the war covered essentially the entirety of modern-day Massachusetts.

-Executions of Native leaders who had surrendered took place on Boston Common. And now there's a wading pool and a carousel and sunbathers and, to my knowledge, no plaque or monument making note of this atrocity.

-During King Philip's War, nearly 8% of men in Plymouth Colony died, nearly double the rate during the Civil War. This is shocking, but "overall, the Native American population of southern New England had sustained a loss of somewhere between 60 and 80 percent." That's men, women, and children lost to war, sickness, starvation, and slavery during fourteen months. That flabbergasts me.

-Philbrick notes: "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." I wonder if this percentage is higher in New England because it seems like every third person I meet claims to be descended from passengers on the Mayflower.

Those are my rather disjointed thoughts about parts of this history. I knew there was a fair amount of bloodshed across the state where I currently live, but reading the details of essentially just fourteen months of it (with some from during the fifty years preceding the war) really put things into perspective. I think about the violence under the foundations of cities like Boston and Providence, and I wonder if there's any part of the United States that isn't blood-stained. I also think about Europe and how many centuries of war and violence are under people's feet there, and I find it easy to lose faith in the better angels of our nature. ( )
1 stem ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
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Nathaniel Philbrickprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
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Preface

We all want to know how it was in the beginning.
Chapter 1
They Knew They Were Pilgrims

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.
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Nathaniel Philbrick's The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World (2008) is a young adult adaptation of this title, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (2006). Please distinguish between the two Works. Thank you.
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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.

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