Saturday, January 07, 2012

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and WarMayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

Why is it hard to read this book, especially the second half?

Is it because it describes a bloody war between previously peaceful Indians and colonists, a war that sealed apparently forever the antagonism between the two races, and relegated native Americans to outsider status in their own land?

Yes. And because of the horrendous slow-motion details Philbrick provides of this war, and the convincing case he makes that it might not have happened this way. For emphasized by the author's excellent scholarship is the unmistakeable fact that Indians and colonists lived peaceably together for more than 50 years after the Pilgrims landed. That they eventually came to fight was not foreordained, unless the Anglo Saxon greed for land and the increase of one's material wealth really does shape destiny. Well, no doubt it does.

Americans owe it to themselves, at long last, to get some corrective for the Pilgrim history they learned in high school. For many this will be their first time seeing more deeply into native American character than the textbooks allow, and that depth will surprise them.

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