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Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History
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Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  246 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
At the end of 1618, a blazing green star soared across the night sky over the northern hemisphere. From the Philippines to the Arctic, the comet became a sensation and a symbol, a warning of doom or a promise of salvation. Two years later, as the Pilgrims prepared to sail across the Atlantic on board the Mayflower, the atmosphere remained charged with fear and expectation. ...more
Paperback, 510 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by Vintage (first published 2010)
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This Thanksgiving, in the spirit of season’s readings, I decided to get a book on the Mayflower pilgrims. When you go looking for Pilgrim books, you quickly learn that there aren’t that many to choose from, unless of course you are between the ages of 3 and 10. Most of the Pilgrim literary canon consists of titles for children, in which you learn that the Pilgrims dressed ridiculously, made everlasting peace with the Indians, and hunted goggle-eyed turkeys with comically enormous blunderbusses. ...more
Lauren Albert
The author is like a toddler who can not make it from one end of a room to the other because he keeps getting distracted by what he passes on the way. I can understand why Bunker would discuss the Beaver fur trade as it affected the Pilgrams, but why would this turn into a discourse on fashion and the history of the Beaver felt hat???? Why do we need to know about the dissection of King James' body? This tendency extends to his drowning the reader in detail about everything--the natural environm ...more
Jan 14, 2012 Kristi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The good -- Bunker does a ton of original research, using documents such as shipping records, title deeds etc. to flesh out the lives of the Pilgrims, their families, and their financial backers. Bunker examines the religious, political, and economic reasons for coming to America -- giving what seems like fair weight and respect to each.

Lots of interesting material here. We see, for example, how economically challenging living in Leiden was like for the Puritan exiles, many of whom sailed on th
James Murphy
Jun 01, 2011 James Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nick Bunker tells a history of the Mayflower Pilgrims and the settlement of Massachusetts we didn't get in school. The Pilgrims weren't fundamentalists. The author makes clear there were no fundamentalists in a Europe in which religion had such a large presence. Deeply inspired by Calvinism, the British Puritans were those who felt the British Crown hadn't gone far enough in separating itself from Catholicism. The Pilgrims were marginalized and frowned-upon within English society, but the sailin ...more
Jenny Brown
I did not finish this book. I agree with the many other reviewers who found the mass of details poorly digested.

In addition, the author's massive collection of historical trivia did not encourage me to trust him because when he ventured into areas where I know something about what he was writing about, his facts were often off.

For example, the map he uses to display Indian hunting territories in the 1600s features a large man-made lake created in the 1930s. His long, mostly irrelevant discours
Oct 08, 2014 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is fine.

/end review

Oh that's not going to cut it, will it? The religious upheaval in England (and Europe to be fair) during the 1600s has always held my interest. Not so much the pilgrims, but more the great changes and the "oh, crud, that king/head thing took it a bit too far, didn't it?" realization. Then you have the Glorious Revolution. It's all a bit of a romp.

This book isn't a romp.

There is a lot of great information in this books. Amazing amounts. Interesting stuff. Unfortunately, it
Robert Morris
An interesting book. Bunker convincingly makes the case that our picture of the Puritans needs to be revised, but fails to produce the book that does it. He has clearly done a ton of investigating. If the research is half as innovative as he keeps telling us it is, then he has done the field a service with this book. It added to my knowledge enormously, which wins it three stars.

The problem with the book is that he is never sure what he wants it to be. Is he telling a story? Is he critiqueing t
Jessica Leight
Jan 03, 2014 Jessica Leight rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Despite growing up in New England, I realized I didn't actually know very much about the Pilgrims and I thought this book would be a useful introduction. I found it quite disappointing, though. It was excessively detailed and seemed to lose the forest for the trees. There were various digressions into tangentially related subjects, particularly related to the history of England at the time, and not much color about what actually happened to the pilgrims after their arrival.
Apr 29, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like anything about pilgrims so I was predisposed to enjoy this, but it's very rambley. Lots of cool facts but the poor author cannot tell you anything without distracting himself - and you the reader - with something else.

You will learn much about the beaver, though.
Brianna DuMont
Stars for sheer amount of research involved, however organization is severely lacking and tricky to overcome. Also, some sound editing was needed--not all of that research had to make it in the book.
ej cullen
This book, while poetic and informative, jumps all over the place like a kangaroo with a hotfoot.
Gayla Bassham
Interesting but oddly organized. I felt like it kept switching back and forth between topics and I kept getting lost. Possibly this had to do with my attention span more than anything else.
Apr 11, 2011 Duff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Incredible research, but at too many points it seemed just too much!
Louise Leetch
Apr 20, 2010 Louise Leetch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History, we know, is not an isolated story. It’s affected by an amalgam of social, economic, political, and religious events even the smallest of which can change the world. Take the Stewart kings of England and their love of fashionable beaver hats. Who would think a couple foppish rakes could change the history of the world? But indeed they did with the help of a couple of wars that eliminated trading sources and a small group of religious idealists seeking freedom. Making Haste From Babylon b ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will tell you more about the Pilgrims than you could ever have imagined knowing--and in rich, beautiful prose. Nick Bunker has undertaken massive research on the English side of the Atlantic, creating a full background--sociological, economic, theological, and more--of the people whom we have known much better from the accounts of their voyage to Massachusetts and what happened once they got here. But Bunker locates them as well in the culture of Elizabethan and Jacobean England in way ...more
Dec 09, 2015 Roberta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think the best thing I can do regarding this book is to share a few reviews from other readers:

"If this book was a person, it’d be the grandpa who keeps sneaking out of the assisted-living facility to wander the streets bold and bewildered."

"Imagine a cattle stampede. Imagine those cattle spreading in every possible direction. Now imagine those cattle as facts. Bunker is the cowboy, trying to chase them down. The reader is the one getting run over."

"The author is like a toddler who can not m
Matthew Griffiths
An interesting story that gets lost in reams and reams of detail that don't really fit the narrative. Granted, some parts of this book were excellent, I particularly enjoyed the segments that discussed the relationship between the growing trade in beaver fur and the success of the Pilgrim colonies as the author worked these into the story well but the endless descriptions of English farmland got to be very tiring very quickly. So many superfluous details are added in here that upon finishing I'm ...more
Amanda Evans
If I hadn't been reading this as a part of a reading challenge, I would have returned it to the library after the first 50 pages. I'm a native New Englander, history enthusiast, and deep Anglophile. This book disappointed on all three of those fronts. Reading it felt like homework - I chose it thinking I'd learn about the Pilgrims' 'world' in Plymouth. Instead easily 80% of the book is focused elsewhere (tedious academic distinctions between different types of Protestantism, royal squabbles in E ...more
Margaret Sankey
I'd like this a lot better with footnotes, but as popular history, I can forgive a lot in that it keeps the settlement of New England firmly in the middle of an Atlantic economic, political and physical world in which the events of the Thirty Years War, religious policy, fashion for beaver hats and the deforestation of Northern Europe shape American history in significant and frequently entertaining ways.
Martin Hogan
Oct 18, 2012 Martin Hogan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Insightful, to say the least. This will take you on a vast journey into the bowels of Mayflower history like no other volume. Pair this with Philbrick's "Mayflower" (a more linear volume). It will be like jumping in Lake Superior in the Keweenaw; the intense cold will wake up those senses and then marvel at the cleanliness.
Jerry Teipen
If I were giving out stars for detail, this would earn an easy five. The problem is that the details are disruptive and overwhelming. The asides made it very difficult to get into the flow of the text.
Feb 18, 2011 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent reference on the Pilgrims, on both sides of the Atlantic - the times and events leading up to the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620 and their experiences in the region of Plymouth and the rest of New England.
Jordon Hensley
A bit dense. A good in depth analysis of the Pilgrims struggle but too dense and dry for my taste. Seemed the author spent more pages than necessary explaining certain topics. Oh well, they can't all be winners.
Dec 22, 2011 Scputval rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in separatistism struggles in England and Holland 1550-1620
Book is well-written, and I'm interested in the subject.
However, it was taking me so long to read because it
was so dense, that I didn't finish it. May have another
go at it.
Jun 10, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This is the only book I've read about the pilgrims which is convincing about their very mindset. I loved the integration of William Bradford's own writings with the books in his library. Fascinating.
May 01, 2010 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Splendid research, would prefer a tidier presentation, too many starts and stops in new places, an overflow of names and stories.
I should find this much more interesting than I do. It's just that Puritans were kinda no fun to begin with... Am I right? Sorry, Grandpa Rogers. I jumped ship on this one.
This is a long book, dense with serious historical research. It's worth the effort, but I'd recommend buying it so you're not under pressure to return it to the library as I was.
Wow! Good History makes you see familiar stories in a new light. this book is very good and very rich in detail. It puts the Pilgrims in their world context, not just in America. Highly recommended.
Sep 03, 2010 Keith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
couldn't bear finishing this book...too laborious and filled with details on English small-town origins and backstory...
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