Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick was an interesting read. It kind of debunks the whole mythology of pilgrims landing on Plymouth rock, practically starving but surviving (which is true) and then launching off into the Revolutionary War 150 years later. He gives more of a play-by-play of the pilgrims--how they got here, why they came, and how they survived, including the traditional 'first Thanksgiving' and interactions with Squanto, who was more mischievious and duplicitous than has been traditionally rendered. But the greater part of the book is about their relations with the Indians (and yes, he calls them Indians) and the war that ensued fifty years later, hence the subtitle, A Story of Courage, Community, and War. He doesn't take sides with the English or the Indians; as he says, they were both "too human" to be purely good guys and bad guys. It's an interesting issue to me, especially with the gospel perspective that we have. He gives some pretty gruesome details of King Philip's War (King Philip being the sachem, or tribal leader, of the Wampanoags, and the son of the leader with whom the pilgrims had been fairly intimate). I had no idea that being drawn and quartered was something that was done here by the colonists. It makes sense, seeing as they hailed from Shakespeare's England and that was still going on over there, but still. Yuck. Philbrick estimates that between 60 and 80 percent of the local tribes were killed in that particular war. He also concludes that about ten percent of modern Americans can trace their lineage to the Mayflower. I'm descended from Edward Doty and Faith Clark through my dad's mom's side. I know Austin says that the Calders are, but he can't remember which ancestor it was. Anyone know? Anyway, it was a good book. I find it all very fascinating.