Christopher Hart

Unhappy Thanksgiving

Mayflower: A Voyage to War

By

HarperCollins 460pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of the hugely successful In the Heart of the Sea, the extraordinary story of the Essex, an early inspiration for the greatest of all Great American Novels About A Fish, Moby-Dick. Now he has taken as his subject another myth, indeed the founding myth of the United States: that of the Pilgrim Fathers and the first Thanksgiving, when they sat down with their friends the Indians and ate turkey and pumpkin pie and cranberry jelly together, and a great nation was born. 

And that, as the author points out here, is where the traditional, optimistic accounts of the Mayflower adventure usually end. Because after that, things began to go awry. The immigrants and asylum-seekers bred faster than the natives,

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