• Mayflower

  • A Story of Courage, Community, and War
  • By: Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 12 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (2,826 ratings)

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Mayflower  By  cover art


By: Nathaniel Philbrick
Narrated by: George Guidall
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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.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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)

"Startling [and] fascinating." (The New York Times

What listeners say about Mayflower

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating book about a little-understood time

Mayflower is a fascinating account of a two early episodes in American History. The first period - the emigration of the Pilgrims from the Old World to the New is of course well-known, but not particularly well-understood. The basic story is there and (thankfully) the outline is what we all tend to believe. However, the details of the Pilgrims and that first Thanksgiving are nothing that you have learned in school. The initial chapters about the fitting out of the Mayflower (and the Speedwell) and the financial macinations are a bit tedious, but the story picks up very quickly with the voyage across the ocean and the landing around (but likely not on) Plymouth Rock.
The second period, King Philip's War, leads directly from the first but is much less famous. It takes place 50 years later than the Pilgrim's landing and is fascinating in its own right. The background gained from the study of the events at Plymouth in the 1620's allows for a deeper understanding of King Philip's War that would have been impossible in a stand-alone context.
The narrator does an excellent job with the pronounciations of the Indian proper and place names. It is a little confusing at first, but by the end of the book the names are familiar and easily recognizable. If you are interested in early Colonial history, I definitely recommend this book.

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Removing the Blinders

By the time I had listened to only the prologue this book had my full attention! As a former elementary teacher I hope that future history books will include the perspective and the facts presented here. Young people need the to know the background of their national heritage to be better informed for opinions in their adult futures. As it stands now - that doesn't exist in our schools. A Wonderful and enlightening book with a captivating narration.

34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

awe-inspiring history but mistitled

This book covers a century. It has a large cast of historical figures, but not too large. I feel it focuses much less on the history of the Mayflower, and much more of the relations between the Indians and the Mayflower settlers and their descendents. It highlights both the day-to-day curiousities of the relationships, and makes me wonder how things could have been different. If you are looking for a book on the Mayflower, here instead is a great book about King Philip's War.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Little on Mayflower, more about the Indians

I enjoy Philbrick's books, including this one. Because of Philbrick's nautical expertise, I was expecting more about the actual Mayflower (its outfitting, the crossing, data about ships of the period or transatlantic sailings of the time). There's not a lot on this but a good deal on the early life of the pilgrims in New England, most of which was interesting. The rest of the book is about the war between the native Indians and the pilgrims and puritans. Though I learned a lot here, it seems that Philbrick had trouble deciding what to include and what to leave out. So Roger Williams' Rhode Island settlement comes in and out of the story as needed; we learn at the end of settlements in Maine and their fights with the natives, but we don't learn when Maine was settled, by whom, etc. So the second part is not a comprehensive history of the 17th century in America, though at times it feels as though the author wants to write one.

The narrator--George Guidall-- is good, though I prefer him in fiction, where he is tops.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Untold Native Stories

Overall the first half of the book moves at an even pace, fairly easy to follow until the author skips back and forth all over history's timeline to embellish episodes of an individual character before getting back to the sequence of events in the drama. The reader's tone is mellow and drawn out without much emotion. The insight into the Native American's lifestyle is facsinating, unlike anything I have read to date.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

This is a wonderful book

This is a wonderful book. The author tells such a compelling story that once the book was finished I found myself missing the characters. You won't be dissappointed.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A fresh and engaging perspective

This book revisits the story of the passengers of the Mayflower, the preparation for the trip, the founding of the Plimoth colony, and the turbulent interaction between natives and a rapidly growing English population, leading to King Philip war in 1675. The author succeeds in bringing the characters to life by expertly presenting their perspectives, values and aspirations. The book is thoroughly researched and very engaging. The narration is outstanding.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ls
  • 08-09-07

Interesting & Engaging

We listened to this as a family on a long car ride. It kept everyone listening most of the time, which is my gauge of a 4 star rating. (Ages of kids are 11-17, but they're true history buffs...)

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars


Just what I was looking for. A well documented and well researched story about the Mayflower with a very good reader. Highly recommend.

10 people found this helpful