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Publisher's Summary

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 best-selling 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 55-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, under 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 altered the face of the fledgling colonies and the country that would grow from them.

With towering figures like William Bradford 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.

©2006 Nathaniel Philbrick; (P)2006 Penguin Audio, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and Recorded Books, LLC. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Impeccably researched and expertly rendered, Philbrick's account brings the Plymouth Colony and its leaders...vividly to life. More importantly, he brings into focus a gruesome period in early American history." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

A wonderful read

History uncovered in a new way. I've learned a lot about how things came to be with the pilgrims in this book and enjoyed every bit of it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

WHAT THE TEACHER DIDN'T TELL YOU

The Pilgrim story not glorified, not glamorized. Insight into the Indian - Settler relationship. Cohesive, Historical, storytelling. It was real, well done and flowed well until the King Philips War segments of which were disjointed just as the war was. It was scattered as the war was. A horrendous part of our early history not usually presented in our educatioal systems. Everyone should know the senerio portrayed. I learned and I liked it. Recommended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • Rockville, MD, USA
  • 06-19-06

Poor Title

The book's title really only describes the first half of the book.

The first half of this book is interesing and right on point. It is the story behind the Pilgrims, their voyage and what drove them to take the risks they did. I was very pleased until, about half way through, the book turned into a drawn-out, detailed account of the wars with the Native-Americans that came several decades after the Pilgrims arrival. While the wars with the Native-Americans may be interesting to some, it was not the reason I bought this book and the accounts of the battles bored me.

If you're buying this because you want to hear the story of the Pilgrims, you'll be happy for the first half of the book. Unless you're really interested in the details of the Native-American wars and are ready to keep track of all the tribes and leaders, the second half will bore you greatly.

11 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Pilgrim's Progress

Mayflower is straight ahead historical narrative in the old-fashioned style. This is the books strength and weakness. Strength because the story of the Pilgrims is both essential and compelling. I grew up in Boston and was a history major in college, and yet my understanding of the facts, dates, names, of the Pilgrims is all too hazy. This book helps. The weakness is that I felt often overloaded by the narrative, with Philbrick unwilling to draw broad conclusions or themes from the Pilgrim's experience. Still, I'm pretty excited to bring the girls to Plymouth Plantation.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ringland
  • Chattanooga, TN, United States
  • 11-22-17

I knew about 10%

Perhaps someone more steeped in this history might not give it 5 stars. However, I learned so much and really appreciated Philbrick's seeming lack of allegiance to a particular group.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fascinating and Disturbing

The Pilgrims' story is mythologized but I don't believe the facts are widely known. I found the story of the Mayflower and subsequent settlement of the area to be fascinating. The back half of the book covers the next few decades and includes King Phillip's was and other conflicts with the native people. As someone with Mayflower ancestors, the narrative was deeply disturbing and on occasions I resorted to turning the sound off. If you know little about this period in US history, don't miss this one.

  • Overall
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  • Story

A Great History

A wonderful historical account of the Pilgrims voyage to the end of King Philips War.

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  • Story

The Pilgrams

My daughter-in-law's family can over on the Mayflower. I've studied their geneology and read the family history. I'm fascinated by the history of both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A worthwhile listen or read.t

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A solid overview of early New England history

What made the experience of listening to Mayflower the most enjoyable?

I appreciated that the author avoided either being too cynical or too naive about a story which, as he noted, has formed the center of our national myth since the Civil War. He tried hard to be objective and view the Pilgrims as human, neither the shining paragons of virtue the Victorians depicted them as, nor as evil genocidal maniacs (which you could certainly feel they were at some points in the story). Instead, he just treats them as ordinary humans in a hard situation, products of their time who did some great things, some terrible things, and made the most of a bad situation while sometimes making the situation worse with their own inexperience. King Philip's War was a fascinating story and I was glad it was included. My main problem with the book is that it occasionally got too disjointed. A lot of the Philip's War discussion was just a recitation of the timeline of events of the war, so I sort of phased out during a lot of that. Sometimes the details included were a bit random (like Massasoit's gastrointestinal issues during his bout with Typhoid...), and then details which I wanted to know were left out, or questions I began to wonder about. So while it's a good overview, you don't walk away feeling like you've gotten a comprehensive story in the way that I have felt in some other Audible history books.

Any additional comments?

My main problem with the book is that it occasionally got too disjointed. A lot of the Philip's War discussion was just a recitation of the timeline of events of the war, so I sort of phased out during a lot of that. Sometimes the details included were a bit random (like Massasoit's gastrointestinal issues during his bout with Typhoid...), and then details which I wanted to know were left out, or questions I began to wonder about. So while it's a good overview, you don't walk away feeling like you've gotten a comprehensive story in the way that I have felt in some other Audible history books.

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The Beginning

This is a very thorough and well researched account of not only the initial Mayflower experience, but takes one through those early years of the colony as well. If you like history, and if you want to know more about this period of time, this is a very good source and a very good read.