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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
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  • 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.

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A Great Story, A Little Wonky

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

Some great pictures were painted that brought some rather banal historical events into better context and focus.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Didn't really have one. There are so many characters of essentially equal importance.

Would you listen to another book narrated by George Guidall?

Yes.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The brutality of the Native Americans and the so-called Christians were equally savage. There was essentially no difference between the "Savages" and the Christian Savages.

Any additional comments?

An interesting bit of history but not super-compelling. Boring in places but overall pretty good.

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History we never hear about

This was rough to listen to because it is a part of our history that we never hear about in school. I found myself saying "what if" many times.

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  • Rob
  • Rockville, MD
  • 02-12-17

Great history

I really loved this account of the first generations in Plymouth. the story really lasts through King Philip's War, and that is the third part really. anyway, a great piece of writing.

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good

Enjoyed it. Found the plight of the Indians fascinating. It did drag at times, but would still recommend it.

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Insightful, important to understand relationship between Europeans and Native Americans

This book is roughly divided into three periods: the immigration of the Pilgrims, their interactions with Native Americans, and the conflicts including the Great Swamp Fight and King Phillip's War. It provided great context for the beginning of the white people's history in North America and the ensuing centuries of complicated relationships with Native Americans. I am particularly intrigued to learn more about Benjamin Church, who could be called America's first Army Ranger.

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Who knew the pilgrims were fascinating?

I have listened to this book a couple of times. It is well-and-truly one of my favorites. I'm a history buff who realized a few years ago I knew almost nothing about the pilgrims. So, I did some digging and came across this book. It was perfect! The book itself is thoughtful, comprehensive, detailed but not overwhelming, and full of human interest without being melodramatic. And the narrator was perfect! He has just the right amount of inflection and emotion. I mostly listened to this book when I did my regular fall and winter nature walks, and that really added to my pilgrim spirit, too :) Highly recommend. AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY

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Well written, but I struggled to finish it

First, credit where it is due: This book was very well written, extremely well researched, and the narration was very good. I really enjoyed the first half that described the lead-up to the voyage, the voyage itself, and the struggle of the first few years. However, once it got into the details of all the different Indian characters, tribes and politics, I quickly got lost, as did my interest. This is more a statement about what holds my interest rather than a reflection on the book itself. For someone who is into deep details of interrelationships, I think this book would be a great fit.

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Interesting book

Good history, interesting, but it was too long. All the events ran together after a while. Worthwhile, however, especially for history buffs.