Mayflower Lives: Pilgrims in a New World and the Early American Experience

Pegasus. Aug. 2019. 416p. notes. index. ISBN 9781643131320. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781643131795. HIST
As the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s landing at Cape Cod approaches, Whittock (“Brief History” series) provides the varied stories of 14 individuals from the Mayflower and the Plymouth, MA, settlement—men, women, and children, including saints (separatist puritans) and strangers (opportunity seekers). The author outlines what is known of their lives (mingled with doses of supposition), motivations, character, and the challenges they endured before, during, and after the perilous 1620 voyage, aiming to demonstrate that these determined adventurers were motivated and sustained by intense faith and supported by impressive courage despite their unknown futures. Their mere survival is astounding (though half perished). Whittock praises them for founding a relatively inclusive community (compared with more restrictive surrounding colonies), and for their ability to forge relatively harmonious, mutually supportive relationships with neighboring Protestant settlers and Native Americans. For Whittock, the stories of these complex, interconnected lives, their successes and shortcomings, for better or worse, have imparted fundamental and enduring influence on American culture and identity.
VERDICT This accessible book, among several that have demythologized Mayflower history, will appeal to readers at all levels.

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