Reviewed by Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian.
Rating: 4 stars
If you are like a good number of children educated in Massachusetts, your history education typically began with Columbus, continued to the Mayflower and the Pilgrim's first year in the New World, and then skipped straight through until the French & Indian War in 1754. I was one of those children but since I grew up in the area where King Phillip's War was fought, that topic was lightly touched upon.
Nathaniel Philbrick's book Mayflower fills in the gap. Only the first third of the book describes the story of the puritans, the voyage, and the first year of the Plymouth settlers. The rest of the book is about what happens later, more specifically Native and European relations taking place over the next 60 years. This is a riveting book that appeals to a variety of readers, thanks to Philbrick's skill at depicting historical events in a much less dense manner than his contemporaries.
Unfortunately it smashes the long cherished Thanksgiving narrative in favor of the sordid truth about who these settlers were and what motivated them. Overall, Mayflower is a complex and well researched depiction of early Colonial New England history written by one of the foremost historical writers. I recommend this book for anyone interested in the real story of the founding of the Plymouth and Mass Bay Colonies but perhaps not to those who prefer to stick to the story we were initially told about the early settlers.