Monday, August 21, 2006

NonFiction - Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick takes an in-depth look into the history of the Pilgrims and their beginnings in the New England area. He picks up with the pilgrims in the early 1600s while they are still in England and the Netherlands and concludes with the end of the King Philips War in 1676. Unlike most history books this is easy to read and is written so that the reader is drawn into the everyday lives of both Native Americans and Pilgrims. Unlike the history of the Pilgrims we all probably learned about in school Nathaniel gives a historical accurate account of those first few decades in America. During the first 50 years or so we see the Pilgrims and Native Americans live in a fairly peaceful coexistence. However, as we move from one generation to the next we see the peace fall apart and distrust cultivate as the colony grows and the founding Pilgrims pass away. This distrust culminates with King Phillips War in 1675. As the author moves through the book he attempts to tell the true story of those years by acknowledging both short falls and successes of the Native Americans and Pilgrims. For example, Captain Miles Standish is portrayed as someone who did not trust Native Americans and even delighted in their suffering. We also come to see Benjamin Church (the great Indian fighter) as someone who reluctantly fought and treated his “enemies” with compassion. We also see Benjamin as a progressive thinker who had more humane ways of settling conflict. On the Native American side we see how the many tribes of the New England area were played off against each other and that perhaps Phillip (the instigator of King Phillips war) was not the sole responsibility for the war and was not as powerful and courageous as we have been told. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about how America truly got its beginning in the early to mid 17th Century.


Joan said...

I have this at home RIGHT NOW to read! I'm only two chapters in or so, but your good review will keep me going!

Eliza said...

I'm going to put it on hold at this very moment. You make non-fiction sound like fun to read.