Just finished up Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick. This book explores the history of the Plymouth colony over a 71 year period from its charter in 1620 to its absorption into the larger Massachusetts Bay royal colony in 1691. A primary focus of the work is Kings Philip War, an armed conflict from 1675 through 1678. This conflict actually involved all the British colonies in New England, not just Plymouth.
Philbrick’s narrative blends history and storytelling. He conveys the almost insurmountable challenges faced by the original group of colonists to establish and build the colony. This part of the book is well-paced and even-handed. The later sections around the causes and description of the conflict between the colonists and their indigenous adversaries are drawn out, more narrative than actual history, and are colored with a contemporary bias.
A Story of Courage, Community, and War
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 spellbinding new book, the true story of the Pilgrims is much more than the well-known tale of piety and sacrifice; it is a fifty-five-year epic that is at once tragic, heroic, exhilarating, and profound.
The Mayflower’s religious refugees arrived in Plymouth Harbor during a period of crisis for Native Americans as disease spread by European fishermen devastated their populations. Initially the two groups—the Wampanoags, led by the charismatic and calculating chief Massasoit, and the Pilgrims, whose pugnacious military officer Miles Standish was barely five feet tall—maintained a fragile working relationship. But within decades, New England would erupt into King Philip’s War, a savagely bloody conflict that nearly wiped out English colonists and natives alike and forever altering the face of the fledgling colonies and the country that would grow from them.
With towering figures like William Bradford, Massosit, Squanto and the distinctly American hero Benjamin Church at the center of his narrative, Philbrick has fashioned a fresh and compelling portrait of the dawn of American history—a history dominated right from the start by issues of race, violence, and religion.