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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War
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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  18,179 ratings  ·  1,628 reviews
HOW DID AMERICA BEGIN?

This simple question launches acclaimed author Nathaniel Philbrick on an extraordinary journey to understand the truth behind our most sacred national myth: the voyage of the Mayflower and the settlement of Plymouth Colony. As Philbrick reveals in this electrifying new book, the story of the Pilgrims does not end with the First Thanksgiving; instead,
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Hardcover, 461 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Viking (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chelsea
Spoiler Alert: The Mayflower lands in Plymouth! Rocks fall, all the Native Americans die.

(One of the most interesting things about Mayflower is how little of it actually dealt with the ship itself. The Pilgrims are settled (well, “settled”), and the Mayflower headed back to England to fall into disrepair and be sold for scrap by page 80. More than half the book is spent on King Philip’s War and the events that lead to it, which actually concerns the two generations after the Mayflower’s passenge
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Matt
When it comes to American history, we have a tendency towards reduction. We cherish the myth over the reality; the bombastic over the subtle; the simple over the complex. In modern media terms, we prefer the soundbite to the whole speech.

On the Fourth of July, for example, we aren't thinking about competing mercantile interests, unpaid French-and-Indian War debts, or the Townsend Acts. Not at all. Instead, as we get hot dog-drunk and light off fireworks, we're probably imagining a guy with a wi
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Mahlon
Dec 16, 2008 Mahlon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys American History
Shelves: read-2008
Nathaniel Philbrick's book "Mayflower" appears at first glance to be merely a recounting of the Pilgrims journey to the New World and their miraculous survival that first winter culminating in the first Thanksgiving, that's all here, but takes up only about 80 pages of the 450+ page book. In reality, Philbrick offers the reader a complete history of Plymouth Colony from 1620-1691 (when it was merged into Massachusets Bay colony) The bulk of the narrative focuses on King Phillip's War (1675-76) f ...more
Michael
I was enthralled with this popular history of the first 60 years of Plymouth Colony starting with the Mayflower landing in 1620. With a focus on the actions and decisions of a limited set of key individuals, Philbrick’s account brings to life the initial desperate events of the colony (half of the initial 102 died the first year) and the early years of dependence on the support of the Pokenoket tribe. I was enlightened to learn how decimation of Indian villages by disease and the competitive bal ...more
Doug Bradshaw
This was an experience similar to David McCullough's John Adams biography for me. It opened my eyes to a world I only had vague images about. And, I come away a little bit bitter and bothered by many different aspects of human behavior, the big one: man's intolerance of other people and their cultures and many times, their ability to blame their bad behavior on the teachings of the Bible or other beliefs in whatever God they worshipped. The Puritans wanted to get away from the religious rules an ...more
Jason Koivu
A must-read if you're from New England or interested in early colonial era history. Philbrick's Mayflower is written to capture your interest in a way you might not expect a book on the Pil--*YAWN!*--grims could. You'll find much more detail with way more truth in this book than anything you learned about those uptight prigs in elementary school!
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 21, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone--At the Very Least, Every American
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Ultimate Readling List - History
I think were it not that I've been so spoiled by some amazing history books lately, I'd be rating this five stars. It's certainly the perfect book to read right before American Thanksgiving. The Mayflower, as every American schoolchild has been taught, is the name of the ship that brought the "Pilgrims," a group of religious dissenters, to America to establish one of the earliest English colonies. While still on board the male settlers signed the "Mayflower Compact" revered as a precursor to the ...more
Shaun
This was a good (though not as good as In the Heart of the Sea) yet challenging read.

Though titled after the Mayflower, this is really a story about the Pilgrims, their search for religious freedom, and their relationship with the Native Indians that culminates in a detailed account of King Philip's war.

The book is well-researched and well-written, if occasionally hard to follow; there's just a lot of info here. In addition, the narrative shifts constantly to reflect whatever references were use
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Tom
Interesting read, and by far the best account of the Pilgrims' ordeal that I've seen so far. The first half of the book is a real page-turner which details the pre-Mayflower days in England and Holland -the ordeal of finding financing while avoiding persecution from their mother country - and moves on to the 10-week voyage and the harrowing first winter in Plymouth. The author then skips forward about 40 years, to give his account of King Philip's war and the consequent annihilation of most of N ...more
Craig
Profoundly readable history of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim's Plymouth Colony settlement in the early 17th century. Much of what I was taught about this was either wrong or grossly misleading. It is astounding what the early settlers had thrown at them and managed to barely survive. Brutal weather, horrible leadership, devastating diseases, native American attacks and betrayals, and massive food shortages plagued the settlers right from the start and never let up. It's a story of perseverance a ...more
David
Good research here and lots of historical facts about the Mayflower, the early days of settlement, and the increasing tensions with the native inhabitants of the New World, but the presentation was generally unimaginative. It took the form of a plodding linear trudge through time. It was at times amazing to consider what the pilgrims went through and what they put the Native Americans through, but it wasn’t until the final chapter that the author pulled the pieces together and gave a narrative s ...more
John
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kerrie
Everything you wanted to know about the pilgrims but were afraid to ask...

Once again, a ton of new information to me that goes far beyond the "common knowledge" we have about this period of America's history, including King Philip's War that was probably the bloodiest war in terms of casualties that this country has ever had.

From the first arrival of the pilgrims in a strange and hostile wilderness where it was quickly determined that cooperation with the natives was crucial to their survival to
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Erika
I just got a late notice from the library that stated: "The following library materials [Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War] are 14 days overdue. Please return these items as soon as possible so that others may enjoy them."

Well, they just got one eeensy thing wrong: no one's going to be enjoying this book.

Perhaps I'm not speaking from experience, as I found myself unable to finish the delightful snooze-fest, but I'm trying out my theory that books also follow The Movie Rule. Wha
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Tracy
MUST READ!! Even if you're not a history buff, you will benefit from finally hearing the true story of the roots of this country. Philbrick bridges the gap between the prevailing ideals of this time, the first being the sweet story- of the pilgrims and natives sitting down for turkey and indian corn and pie, trading goods and stories alike, the second being the idea that those brutal English arrived and forced the natives off their land- Bad English, Bad! Of course, it's much more complicated th ...more
Jerome
First off, I am to blame for having expectations. I thought Mayflower would be an easy reading general history of the Pilgrims and the foundation of the Plymouth Colony. It was, for about 1/3 of the book. It was so general that I don't think I learned anything. Little attention is paid to the how's and why's of the Pilgrims departure from England. It is explained that they didn't like the formal Church of England so they left. Okay, that's a bit to broad for me. Little detail is provided about w ...more
Deb
I was absolutely fascinated by this story of the lives of the Pilgrims - their early exile to Holland in order to worship according to their faith, the decision to set up a colony in North America, and what transpired over 3 generations of diplomacy and war with the Native Americans. It was clear from the start that the colonies needed a relationship with the native peoples in order to survive, and it was also clear that this relationship would end in war.

The most exciting aspect of this book w
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Richard
Is there a genre called pop history? If there is, this is surely a representative title. It's an easy read, and Philbrick offers a politically correct version of events which has certainly had mass appeal. The title is misleading, though. It in fact only applies to the first part of the book; the second part deals with an event that took place 55 years hence, namely King Philip's War, or as some historians suggest it might more appropriately be called, the Second Puritan Conquest. Of course, at ...more
Brian
I found this book to be very informative. The beginning of the book, which described the Puritans struggle to come to America, was interesting. I also thought that the descriptions of the initial days of their lives in the foreign land, largely surviving only on the provisions they brought with them and coping with much colder weather than they were used to, was fascinating.

The middle portion of the book, which described life for the Plymouth Rock colony after other other groups from England ha
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Jenifer
This was just so hard for me to get through. Audio saved me for sure. It was worth reading with my book club friends; I'm glad they are so brave and will take on the difficult and the different. Way to go, girls!!

I think it's interesting that the first settlers really didn't care that much for freedom of religion for all. They seemed to want the freedom to impose their ideas on their society as a whole. As soon as they could they started laying down the religious dogma and tried to make everyone
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Brandy clark
Omg. This book should not be disguised as a novel!! It's really a text book- don't be fooled!! I must finish this one by this thanksgiving and impress everyone at the dinner table with my knowledge of the first thanksgivingers hardships and triumphs. I think it's been 2 yrs. I've been trying to finish this one:p
Terry Earley
I found the account of my ancestor who was swept overboard and barely rescued in this book. It added to our family culture.

This account of the Mayflower and the subsequent colonies in New England was balanced, detailed and quite readable.
Jen
Having read Philbrick before, I was mightily looking forward to this book. After this, I think I'll take a break.

Not that this is a bad book, but when you read an author's work one after another and his voice is similar you get the books confused (see: Me and my MUST READ ALL THE ATWOOD). Not only that, but he includes a lot of pictures. Like every few pages. This is lovely, really, but it got old. Especially the "artist depiction from 200 years later," because that says more about 200 years lat
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Steven Peterson
Nathaniel Philbrick's "Mayflower" is a wonderful rendering of the founding of the Plymouth Colony and its first half century.

The book traces the founding event in 1620 to disaffection by a set of English Puritans. They moved to the Netherlands and sought to assure passage to the New World. The ship that they used for this adventure was, of course, the Mayflower.

The book traces the difficult voyage of 102 passengers over two months. Living conditions were nasty. We meet some of the central char
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Jodi
I love learning about history. A historical fiction book can make my day! But, this book is nonfiction and difficult to get through at times. It started off pretty interesting and throughout the book, it's amazing to find out about the myths that have been passed on through the years in American history about the Mayflower voyage, but all-in-all, I felt like I was trying to get through a college required reading. I was cramming to get it done before bookclub and came within 50 pages of finishing ...more
Mike
In this account of early colonial New England, Philbrick reveals far more about the Mayflower’s story than what most of us pick up in second grade Thanksgiving celebrations. In fact, the title is somewhat misleading as the book actually contains two interlocked narratives. The first concerns the Pilgrims (and the other Englishmen who sailed with them) who came over on the famous ship and established the colony at Plymouth. Philbrick’s depiction of their struggles points to the depth of motivatio ...more
Brian
I started this book in 2007, gave up...
Restarted from the beginning in 2010, gave up...
Tried again from the beginning in 2011 and finished....

We're all "familiar" with the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims, and the first thanksgiving but probably aren't aware of the actual details behind the story. There's a reason: the story isn't particularly interesting.

To Wit:
A small band of cult-like religious zealots flees Europe to escape religious intolerance by forming their own intolerant colony i
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Jason
Philbrick has done nearly an impossible task for today's popular history reader. He has written an excellent story that avoids the pitfalls of historical revisionism in the American academy and presents the story of the Plymouth colony in its context, while at least considering why this particular colony became the American family myth, in a sense, the Romulus and Remus story of the American republic, nearly 400 years later.

While the title is Mayflower, only a fraction of the book's nearly 500 p
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Lilly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike (the Paladin)
Unabridged audio book.

I read ("listened to" in this case) this over Thanksgiving a while back. It's a pretty good attempt at an even handed treatment of the subject. I find that while earlier versions of the story tend to view the Pilgrims universally as heroic (not a bad thing for young students in my view) the more recent attempts have gone the other way. There seems to be a need to see them almost as villains. They were of course, human, a mixture of good and bad. Many of the things they did
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Pilgrims Positive Traits & Actions 19 89 Apr 29, 2013 06:15PM  
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Philbrick was Brown’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978; that year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI; today he and his wife Melissa sail their Beetle Cat Clio and their Tiffany Jane 34 Marie-J in the waters surrounding Nantucket Island.

After grad school, Philbrick worked for four years at Sailing World magazine; was a freelancer for a number of years, during whic
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More about Nathaniel Philbrick...
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 Why Read Moby-Dick? Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution

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“There are two possible responses to a world suddenly gripped by terror and contention. There is the Moseley way: get mad and get even. But as the course of King Philip's War proved, unbridled arrogance and fear only feed the flames of violence. Then there is the (Benjamin) Church way. Instead of killing him, try to bring him around to your way of thinking. First and foremost, treat him like a human being. For Church, success in war was about coercion rather that slaughter, and in this he anticipated the welcoming, transformative beast that eventually became, once the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were in place, the United States.” 3 likes
“The moment any of them gave up on the difficult work of living with their neighbors--and all of the compromise, frustration, and delay that inevitably entailed--they risked losing everything.” 1 likes
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