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Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' First Year in America

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  143 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Thanksgiving is not a book about a holiday. It s about something that a few dozen survivors did after a year of suffering, death, struggle, and courage.
They bowed their heads to give thanks.
The Pilgrims journey began as a joint venture of business and religion, but soon it became a matter of survival.
With 102 men, women, and children packed into a dim, wet space below t
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published September 30th 2007 by New London Librarium
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Nov 06, 2009 Marilou rated it really liked it
I received this audiobook in the mail - a giveaway directly from the author. His introduction "hooked" me right at the start. Glenn Alan Cheney writes with clarity and wit. His facts are taken from first hand accounts (letters and diaries) of the Separatist Pilgrims who endured the treacherous journey to a new world. As other Goodreads reviewers have noted, the author handles the native Americans, the Puritans, the Anglicans, the Catholics with fairness. He reports on their good attributes but d ...more
Oct 06, 2009 Dustin rated it really liked it
First off, I am very glad that I read this book before this coming Thanksgiving. It has shed new light on the our national holiday and why it's important to have a day of thanks. At times in reading the book I felt that the author, Cheney, was a little too tongue and cheek about the events and the history leading up to the pilgrims decision to leave Leyden, England. But, a good overview non-the-less. What an amazing journey. Cheney portrayed the struggles and psyche of the Pilgrims well. The stu ...more
Jul 17, 2015 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never dreamed a book called "Thanksgiving" would be a page-turning, gripping and amazing book. The copy that I read was purchased from the author a couple years ago during the annual "America's Hometown Thanksgiving" weekend event in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Little stacks of this nondescript and modest tome quietly got our attention. This was - no joke - one of the most dynamic examples of "Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover" that I will ever know.

The writing is outstandi
Oct 29, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I tried twice to win this book here on GoodReads and then finally bit the bullet and bought the book on Amazon. I have to say it's good!

The author did a great job of research and carefully separates fact, fiction, and myth. I love how he delineates the differences between what is known and that which is conjecture. I especially enjoyed how he chunks up the chapters so neatly. We learn about the Pilgrims, the ship, the time frames. It's such an easy read! Best of all, it was a fun read. There's a
Found this book after recently learning I am descended from 1 of its subjects (not important who, though its fair to say he winds up as the least-respectable of the group!). First read The Wordy Shipmates to learn more about what my 12th great grandfather endured. Good as that was, its focus was on the Boston settlers who followed and not that 1st group at Plymouth. Thanksgiving is squarely focused on the Mayflower group. This book does a great job of blending the record of what we know with tha ...more
Much more than a terse, cursory nod to this period in our early history, Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' First Year in American takes the reader back in time when the hardships were almost unfathomable to 21st century readers. With a dose of humor and a heaping helping of empathy, Cheney paints a picture for us that is almost surreal, yet comes alive with descriptions of historical characters, events, and places.

Not being much of a history buff myself, I did however read this offering with relish s
May 26, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a thoroughly enjoyable telling of the Pilgrims' journey to America and the events preceding and leading up to the first Thanksgiving celebration. The author's style is very readable, almost conversational, but not so casual that you miss the research that went into the book. He makes no secret of the fact that in some instances, we may not know what actually happened, and in those instances, he may exercise a bit of creative intuition to surmise as to how events took place. The book fles ...more
Ralph Hunter
Mar 21, 2010 Ralph Hunter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is unique. Mr. Cheney's gift for anecdotal and clever writing coupled with in-depth research make this work a "must read" for every American and a fascinating experience for the world of readers!

After reading this author's immersive writing about the Pilgrims you feel like approaching your friends and saying "Did you know that ... ?" For example, the pivotal role that one native american named Squanto played was the key to acceptance of the Pilgrims on Cape Cod and thus assured their
Darcia Helle
Nov 14, 2010 Darcia Helle rated it it was amazing
Having grown up in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims, the Mayflower, and Plymouth Plantation were a large part of my education. After reading this book, I realized how very selective that education had been. Cheney tells the story of the first 102 men, women and children who came to Plymouth from England. He goes back to the very beginning, to their lives in Europe and their reasons for wanting to start over someplace new.

While this book is packed with information, Cheney's writing is never dry or du
Feb 23, 2009 Jen rated it liked it
This book takes a fairly detailed look at the harsh reality of the Mayflower's crossing and the settling at Plymouth. The narration has an unexpected sense of humor that helps to temper some of the more vile aspects of illness and injury that occur, and ultimately renders the primary accounts and researchers' conclusions into a memorable and thought-provoking tale of lives we can scarcely imagine. I also thought that Cheney handled the "Indian" issue with grace without swooning into fake infatua ...more
Linda Marie Marsh
I should preface my review by saying that i was one of those lucky enough to work at the Mayflower. Not dressed in costume on the ship but outside, organizing tour groups and then also giving a quick, historical- what to expect talk and answering questions before tourists entered ths ship. Reading/learning was required obviously and it is THE one job i can say i truely loved.
So i have to admit i kinda looked for mistakes. I looked for the misconceptions and the misinformation dispersed around th
Deb Klick
Nov 04, 2014 Deb Klick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is not very common to find a book so full of facts and information that flows so beautifully. Cheney is at heart a story teller. Yet when the story is done, you realize just how much information he also imparted. Both the Pilgrims and the Natives are fleshed out individuals, not symbols or stereotypes. If ever a group found themselves in over their heads, it is the Pilgrims. We see the forces, political and religious, climatic and cultural, that influenced their decision to come to Cape Cod a ...more
May 19, 2011 Shomeret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews, history
I didn't win the GR giveaway for this book, and the author contacted me about a discount available to all Goodreads members. Go to his author page for a link.

I got interested in this subject after I had seen the Ashley Judd episode of the celebrity ancestry series Who Do You Think You Are? It turns out she's descended from William Brewster who was on the Mayflower. The episode revealed some interesting things about Brewster and the pilgrims in general. I wanted to know more.

A great deal of meti
Apr 04, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: firstreads
Won this book from First Reads! Thanks!

I never really liked history growing up...all of those dates! I thought of trying this book because it was ONLY ONE YEAR...I could handle that!

But seriously, this book was fantastic! It is not your grandfather's Thanksgiving tale. It is much richer. Painful at times to read what the Mayflower inhabitants endured to make it here. And that first year was truly challenging and tested the very faith of the pilgrims.

I really enjoyed learning about the role tha
Oct 24, 2010 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review of Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' First Year in America
Let me begin by apologizing to Glenn Cheney for posting this review so late. Unfortunately I allowed life happenings to get in the way. I did share this book with family and friends; and so it was mailed back and forth several times.
Reading Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims ‘ First Year in America, made us all realize that there was much more to Thanksgiving at that time, than just being friends with a few Indians and sitting down to a meal
Nov 16, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it
This book FINALLY arrived, not in time for a pre-Thanksgiving read, unfortunately, but I am jumping in and will be all well informed and educated for NEXT Thanksgiving :)

Update: Finally, after all the high-demand books I had in my queue at the library started coming available one after the other and several at a time, I am at a reasonable lull to be able to read this offering, and I am so enjoying it! I'm on page 157, middle of Chapter 10, and I just started reading this Saturday. Thus far, I'm
I finished Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' First Year in America last night. I am a pretty slow reader (I like to take my time with books and really absorb everything I'm reading AND I've been working on various projects seven days a week, so I can only read in the late evenings.) Having said that, I need to point out that reading a work of non-fiction (which usually moves slower than fiction) in one week is VERY quick for me. But this work of non-fiction read like an amazing adventure story, and I ...more
Steve Masi
Nov 26, 2014 Steve Masi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is to the first Thanksgiving, as Undaunted Courage is to the Lewis and Clark expedition. The prologue alone is the best concise description of the political and religious issues gripping England and Europe and ultimately forcing the Pilgrims to seek refuge in the New World. The story of these courageous people is an action adventure tale of the highest order that has always been shortchanged until now. Reading this book has become an annual ritual for me and I'm sure it will become one ...more
Nov 09, 2009 Joanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
If you have ever wondered about the not-so-stuffy details of the pilgrim's voyage, their settlement and some of the day-to-day details of the beginning of their lives on the New England coast and ending with their celebration of the accomplishments of their first year, then this is the book to read!

Instead of dwelling on their religious beliefs and the constraints of same, this book tells of their relations with the Indians on a day by day basis - the good and the bad, the hard work in very col
Apr 08, 2010 Marty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful recounting of the first year of the pilgrims in America.
The author goes in to more informative detail about the year leading up to the first Thanksgiving than any history book used in schools today. The hardships are not glossed over.
The book is very well written and takes the reader to what went on long before the official landing. Not really much is know of the ocean voyage, but through research and what information Mr. Cheney has obtained, the reader is given a very good idea of w
Nov 26, 2009 Lin rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic book to finish reading on Thanksgiving Day. I really and truly enjoyed this refreshing book. I was able to look at the events leading up to the event, the actual event, and what happened to the participants afterward through unbiased eyes.

Mr. Cheney has done an excellent job of keeping this book on track historically without the text becoming dry facts. I was always interested throughout the book and never got sidetracked other than with my school work, which of course comes fir
Dick Whittington
Apr 25, 2011 Dick Whittington rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Dick by: Goodreads
Shelves: 2011, rated-5-stars
Factual history of the Pilgrim's decision to come to America, their voyage and life during the first twelve months in Plymouth. Gave me a new respect for the extreme hardships of that first winter and the critical importance that strong, positive and mutually-beneficial Indian relationships played in the Pilgrims' survival. A story of unbelievable courage, bravery, trust and belief in their God and their fellow travelers. Every school should adopt this as required reading during their study of A ...more
Oct 28, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading about history, and not the bright, shiny, antiseptic treated and germ-free version either. I like to hear the facts, at least as close to the facts as may be known, regardless of how distasteful and graphic those facts may be.

Mr. Cheney's "Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' First Year in America" is just such a piece. "Thanksgiving" is a quintessential historical delve into the Pilgrims' struggle to survive in a new and often unforgiving terrain.

Cheney's writing is straightforward and
Nov 12, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a Goodreads win directly from the author. I thought it was fascinating. It was well researched and easy to follow.

The book described the history of religious persecution that drove the pilgrims to leave for America. It described the journey and how dangerous it was and what kind of conditions were on board. And then what it was like for them when they landed in the new world in the middle of winter with no housing, food, warmth and lots of disease. By spring half of the
Nov 23, 2015 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really great read about the pilgrim's first year in America. Truth be told, I had this book sitting around on my book shelf for a few years until I got around to it. But I am so glad that I did! Cheney's journalism prowess shines through the straightforward prose. It is neither sentimental nor drowsy. I generally dislike historical books because they are typically dry, long, and have terrible meandering discussions that never really get to the point. I have since handed the book off to a frien ...more
Nov 30, 2009 LeeAnn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to LeeAnn by: Jen?
Shelves: historical
This book is probably the best I have read about the earliest Pilgrims. Written with humor and an earnest desire to give a well-rounded view of the factual and probable situations faced by those early settlers, the book is a pleasant and informative read. I heartily recommend this book to anyone. It is well worth the price to add it to your personal library!

I like the note that this book shows what the people did, not some dry historical event. Exactly!

Additional note: For some reason, I was exp
Dec 11, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book! It's a nonfiction, which I'm not used to reading and usually isn't the type of book I'd normally choose reading, but it was so educational that I loved my time reading it. Throughout the book I kept telling Joe interesting new facts that I'd learn and now he wants to read it! This is saying a lot because he's not much of a reader. I was amazed at how I really had no clue about the Pilgrims and first Thanksgiving. I thought I knew what had happened, but I didn't really. Like the ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Jeanine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of the Pilgrims that the text books didn't address and that your history teacher probably wished he/she knew. This small book was clearly well researched and written in clear language with a touch of humor that still maintained the dignity of the Pilgrims themselves. Imagine a group of regular people leaving the world they knew for one that was literally a blank slate. Mr. Cheney brings these people to life right before your eyes. If you love history this is a must read; if you ...more
Jun 02, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
I really enjoyed reading this book. Unfortunately, my knowledge of the Pilgrims is what I have read in textbooks and children's books through the years. This book gave a real perspective of just how difficult life was for the Pilgrims while trying to make a new life in the U.S.A. The book, with names and ages of pilgrims, also really gave a personal viewpoint to the people on the Mayflower. I definitely recommend this book for anyone that wants to understand the real life story of the pilgrims, ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Melinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book! And one I think everyone will enjoy as well. It is way more than just a history of the holiday, as it goes into the probable feelings of the pilgrims. And though we will never know those, we all do know they had it rough. Mr. Cheney just adds the words for us. It ended up being a real page turner for me, and one that I will reread again a few times in the future. Here is also the link to my review at Amazon

Great book!!!
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Take Back America...: We are STILL the Pilgrims 1 9 May 02, 2013 08:20AM  
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Glenn Alan Cheney is a writer and journalist. He is the author of more than 20 books of fiction and nnfiction and hundreds of articles, op-ed essays, translations, short stories, and poems.

Among his most recent and well known books are "Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' First Year in America," "Journey on the Estrada Real: Encounters in he Mountains of Brazil," and "Journey to Chernobyl: Encounters in
More about Glenn Alan Cheney...

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