• The Mayflower

  • The Families, the Voyage, and the Founding of America
  • By: Rebecca Fraser
  • Narrated by: Kate Reading
  • Length: 15 hrs and 28 mins
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From acclaimed historian and biographer Rebecca Fraser comes a vivid narrative history of the Mayflower and of the Winslow family, who traveled to America in search of a new world.

The voyage of the Mayflower and the founding of Plymouth Colony is one of the seminal events in world history. But the poorly equipped group of English Puritans who ventured across the Atlantic in the early autumn of 1620 had no sense they would pass into legend. They had 80 casks of butter and two dogs but no cattle for milk, meat, or ploughing. They were ill prepared for the brutal journey and the new land that few of them could comprehend. But the Mayflower story did not end with these Pilgrims' arrival on the coast of New England or their first uncertain years as settlers. Rebecca Fraser traces two generations of one ordinary family and their extraordinary response to the challenges of life in America.

Edward Winslow, an apprentice printer, fled England and then Holland for a life of religious freedom and opportunity. Despite the intense physical trials of settlement, he found America exotic, enticing, and endlessly interesting. He built a home and a family, and his remarkable friendship with King Massassoit, chief of the Wampanoags, is part of the legend of Thanksgiving. Yet, 50 years later, Edward's son Josiah was commanding the New England militias against Massassoit's son in King Philip's War.

The Mayflower is an intensely human portrait of the Winslow family written with the pace of an epic. Rebecca Fraser details domestic life in the 17th century, the histories of brave and vocal Puritan women, and the contradictions between generations as fathers and sons made the painful decisions that determined their future in America.

This sweeping audiobook leads from a harrowing adventure on the high seas to an inspirational story of societal regeneration. Fraser's scope is expansive, but her sensitive treatment of the Winslow family makes the listener feel present and included.

©2017 Rebecca Fraser (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Superbly written and enthralling... The Mayflower reads as though it were historical fiction, with a varied cast of characters and perspectives, fine details, background histories, and a holistic approach." ( Booklist)
"[Fraser] is a careful researcher, fair and level-headed. She is also an excellent painter of characters; in judging them, she looks at their deeds with contemporary mores in mind. Even if the Mayflower shelf is a crowded one, this is a book that deserves its place on it." — The Economist

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I kept saying "Oh My Goodness!"

I really wanted to like this book. I heard author talk about it in an interview and actually learned more from that then the book itsself. The worst part of this book is that it is so old-fashioned racist, completely unaware of how racist it is. Whenever talking about the interactions between the puritan pilgrims and the Native Americans I kept saying "Oh my goodness!" It was so shocking! How can anyone say such horrible lies? If the author believes the lies, or simply lacks imagination of something more realistic it doesn't matter because it was that shocking. I listened to the whole book. Sadly my first book about the Mayflower people. I hope to next listen to Native American version before attempting anymore Mayflower books. I will read historic accounts like that by William Bradford. I just find it shocking in this day and age to still be peddling this very unenlightened views of pilgrims. I can't recommend the book. I also did not like the reader's voice.

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Highly informative and Even-handed

This book is highly informative and doesn't stray too far into either myth making or attempting to adjudicate historical events retroactively. It follows a framework of focusing in on the key families on the voyage and native to the Plymouth area from the voyage to their deaths with useful details added as needed. These stories are woven together with attention given to the men and the women of pilgrim and native birth for a fuller picture of the Plymouth milieu. I tend to pick up a history of the period around Thanksgiving time each year, and this is the best I've read thus far.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Some great some trivial

Interactions with the Indians very interesting and sometimes chilling. Legal squabbles between families usually boring. Author obviously did a great deal of research. Good narrator.

1 person found this helpful