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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, & War

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  24,822 Ratings  ·  1,986 Reviews
The oft told tale of how the Pilgrims & the Indians celebrated the First Thanksgiving does not do justice to the history of Plymouth Colony. Instead of an inspiring tableau of tranquil cooperation, the Pilgrim's first half-century in America was more of a passion play in which vibrant, tragic, self-serving, & heroic figures struggled to preserve a precarious peace- ...more
Paperback, 461 pages
Published 2006 by Viking
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Kathy Dobronyi The Leiden Pilgrims/Separatists boarded the Speedwell and departed from Delfshaven in the Netherlands in July 1620. They met up with more Separatists…moreThe Leiden Pilgrims/Separatists boarded the Speedwell and departed from Delfshaven in the Netherlands in July 1620. They met up with more Separatists in London. In Southampton, they met the so-called Strangers, non-Pilgrims, who primarily set out on the Mayflower. Both ships set out in August 1620, but the Speedwell had to return to England because it was taking on water. Eventually, the Speedwell stayed behind, and the overloaded Mayflower set out from Plymouth, England on 6 September 1620.(less)
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Aug 30, 2008 Chelsea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, non-fiction, history, 2008
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
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
Dec 16, 2008 Mahlon rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
Sep 08, 2012 Doug Bradshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 02, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 19, 2007 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 29, 2011 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2008 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Jun 20, 2016 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The first third of this book was very interesting to me. As flawed as the pilgrims were, there was much to admire about them, so it made for an interesting narrative. The Native American’s participation in diplomacy and intrigue was exciting. Once Philbrick moved onto the second generation and King Phillip’s War, my enthusiasm waned. Everything about King Phillip’s War was new to me, but, at the same time, it was the familiar, sad story of the demise of Native Americans. The reality of this stor ...more
Joshua Rigsby
I'm pretty sure Philbrick didn't pick this title. Very little of this book is about the Mayflower or the first Thanksgiving, or landing at Plymouth. It's really about "King Phillip's War" a 14 month protracted and bloody conflict between English settlers and Native American tribes that took place a generation or two after the Mayflower arrived. Philbrick states that this war was the impetus for his writing and the focus of his research in the very beginning of the book. I cannot blame him for th ...more
Aug 05, 2008 Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 23, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jan 07, 2016 Max rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Philbrick tells two stories, one of the Pilgrims, devout separatist Puritans who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620 seeking religious freedom and peace; another of succeeding generations with less worthy motivations. Philbrick is at his very best describing the first generation, their sacrifice and hardships, their faith and fortitude, their reliance on the help of the Indians and their striving for cooperation and peaceful coexistence. But before long their high ideals began to erode. Then in the ...more
Mar 05, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

How have I missed out on Nathaniel Philbrick's writing? I really enjoyed his writing style and he really seems to know his stuff.

Mayflower is of course about the voyage the Pilgrims took in 1620 to come to America from England. I learned a lot about the voyage and the Pilgrims' founding of Plymouth while listening to this audiobook. Everyone hears about the first Thanksgiving, but I didn't know about the various wars
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
Mar 02, 2008 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2011 Jenifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 08, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear, interesting history of the Pilgrims and their voyage to the New England. I found this book engrossing and not dry reading at all which sometimes histories can be. So glad I read this as I've been to Plymouth and can picture where the events took place. Would recommend this highly.

8/16 - Just as good as the first time reading. I really like hearing about places where events took place and looking them up on google or wikipedia to see what they look like today.
Lis Carey
The Pilgrims of Plimoth Plantation are part of the founding mythology of the US. But what most of us know, or at least remember, is Plymouth Rock, Thanksgiving, the Puritans, and then the Revolution. Maybe we remember that King Philip's War is a thing that happened, but we may be a bit hazy on the details. Probably we remember Squanto, the friendly Indian who taught the Pilgrims to grow corn.

Philbrick brings in all marvelously to life.

And in doing so, he restores the richness, complexity, and am
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.
Nov 29, 2014 Jessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, really enjoyed this. I think it's both fun and important to read more in-depth accounts of historical events, especially ones as charged as the first 75 years of the United States, ranging from the pilgrim's landing through King Philip's War.

My one real concern about the book is that, I guess understandably considering it's called Mayflower, the book still very much is from the point of view of the pilgrims. They, and any Native Americans that ally with them, are the heroes, and any Nat
Oct 28, 2010 Erika rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unreadable
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
Steven Peterson
Jan 19, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2012 Jerome rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Play Book Tag: Mayflower - Nathaniel Philbrick, 4 Stars 5 17 Aug 27, 2016 11:52AM  
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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
More about Nathaniel Philbrick...

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“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.” 4 likes
“In the end, both sides wanted what the Pilgrims had been looking for in 1620: a place unfettered by obligations to others. But from the moment Massasoit decided to become the Pilgrims’ ally, New England belonged to no single group. For peace and for survival, others must be accommodated. 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. It was a lesson that Bradford and Massasoit had learned over the course of more than three long decades. That it could be so quickly forgotten by their children remains a lesson for us today.” 1 likes
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