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Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  26,842 Ratings  ·  2,098 Reviews
From the bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea-winner of the National Book Award-the startling story of the Plymouth Colony 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 bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick reveals in his spellbi ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Viking Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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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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Community Reviews

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I have to admit, I am one of those naïve Americans that has walked around in a bit of a fantasy land when it comes to the history of Plymouth and the Pilgrims. From grade school, I knew they desired freedom to worship their religion without persecution. In order to do so, they faced a difficult journey aboard the Mayflower prior to landing on the shores of New England. There’s a giant rock on which they must have set foot after disembarking from the ship. I know the Pilgrims struggled to survive ...more
Aug 28, 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
May 14, 2017 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pilgrims! Indians! War!

This is an in-depth look at the first years of the colonists in New England, and also the terrible war with the Indians that the next generation faced. Philbrick's book is called Mayflower, but only the first section of it focuses on the sea voyage and the Mayflower Compact. I was especially interested in learning what the colonists did in the early days of their settlement, how they adapted to the land and worked on their homes. However, a majority of the book is about Ki
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
Nov 26, 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 01, 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
Nov 22, 2008 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)
Oct 15, 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
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
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
Jun 29, 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
Nov 19, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, history, non-fiction
This is not a book about the crossing over on the Mayflower, although that is briefly touched on. This book describes the years leading up to the voyage, and the Pilgrims first 55 years in America.

The first part of the book reads like fiction with passages such as this: “What would have astounded a modern sensibility transported back to that Christmas Day in 1620 was the absolute quiet of the scene. Save for the gurgling of Town Brook, the lap of waves against the shore, and the wind in the bar
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 12, 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
Feb 17, 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.
Aug 25, 2008 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beyond Turkeys, Cranberry Sauce, Tall Hats, and Buckled Shoes

Nathaniel Philbrick's remarkable "Mayflower" is everything you'd hope a history book to be: illuminating, lively, and authoritative. This was simply a terrific read, a fascinating glimpse into the events and people serving as the first bricks in our nation's foundation.

Beyond the fairytale images of "The First Thanksgiving", most basic American history skips from the Mayflower's 1620 landing in Plymouth the American Revolution, glossi
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting in terms of writing as well as the premise of the book.
I had anticipated the book to be written similarly to In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, which had many facts but was similar to a novel in its storytelling.
Mayflower was rather dry and, whereas I did learn a great deal, I found myself drowning in a sea of facts. The book, as a friend had mentioned, reads more like a textbook, thus less enjoyable.

As far as the story, I was
Oct 14, 2016 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's good. Philbrick includes so much interesting information upon the physical world, beyond the historic events and people. Especially within ship voyages, as he does here with the Gulf Stream.

These people on the Mayflower were serious about their religion. And to have such faith in their God's protection! But it is nearly impossible to form the perceptions and conceptions of their reality to what they would find, IMHO. Because their entire worldview was so elementally different. Four of those
Jul 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
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
Oct 15, 2016 Eileen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

On the positive side, I thought this book was well researched and clearly written. I also valued that this book brought to light a realistic view of how the Pilgrims approached the Native American people, land, and resources.

However, I found the book to be less about the voyage of the Mayflower and the overall life of the Pilgrims settling Plymouth Colony, and more of a factual recitation of the continuous conflict that ensued between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. The book is less like
Dec 30, 2015 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
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
I found this book loaded with fact, I felt like I was studying for a history exam. But, it was interesting. My Swedish ancestors wouldn't have had an America to immigrate to if the Pilgrims weren't a stout and resourceful people .
Jan 01, 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 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
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
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
May 16, 2010 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.
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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.” 2 likes
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