Nov 16th, 2011 by Lisa
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick tells the story of the hardships of the pilgrims, from freezing weather, starvation and altercations with Natives.
We get insight into the crossing of the Atlantic and are introduced to those that played roles in the settling of the colonies including William Bradford, Benjamin Church, Myles Standish, Edward Winthrop, Squanto and Massasoit. After a few decades of peace, the book then describes King Philip’s War, one of the bloodiest and costliest wars in the history of North America that nearly wiped out English colonists and natives alike.
Book Club Ideas
For invitations, I found these cute homemade pilgrim invitation from Julie at Thoughts That Stick blog.
For the table setting, this ship-inspired setting from Martha Stewart is one of the coolest I have seen. So perfect for a book club party for Mayflower.
|To bring in the role the Indians played, this Native American print blanket can be used as a tablecloth.Other decorations to consider for your table setting include arrowheads, beads, corn, clay pots, wooden bowls and reed baskets.|
To dress up for your book club, here are some pilgrim costumes. Indian hair feathers and a beaded choker are another option.
Book Club Menu
Corn became a staple of every New Englander’s diet. The colonists made adaptations of Native recipes, such as hominy, Johnnycakes and Succotash, which is a soupy mishmash of corn, beans and whatever fish and meat were available (page 193). Due to the poor quality of drinking water in seventeenth century England, beer was considered essential to a healthy diet. Wheat and barley were two of the crops the pilgrims brought with them aboard the Mayflower for planting in the spring, so a wheaty Massachusetts beer would be a great accompaniment to this colonial meal.
Another food the colonists would eat was boiled acorns (page 106). The acorns in the picture below are purely decorative…I wasn’t adventurous enough to try to boil and eat them. Pork was a delicacy that the Indians found almost impossible to resist (page 151) so I made my succotash with ham.
For a more traditional Thanksgiving meal, you can make this feast of, Roasted Turkey with Turkey Gravy, Stuffing with Sausage, Walnuts and Apples, Creamed Onions, Wild Rice, Squash Casserole and Cranberry Sauce.
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.74 stars (5627 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4.5 stars (355 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 3.86 stars (61 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4.5 stars. There was so much I didn’t know about the settling of America and Nathaniel Philbrick presented it in a readable and enjoyable way.|
- Did you learn something new while reading this book? Have you ever read anything that conflicted with the findings in this book?
- The Pilgrims initially grew crops communally – and suffered debilitating food shortages. Governor Bradford decided that each household would be given its own plot to cultivate and each family kept whatever it grew. A dramatic change occurred. Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before and they never again starved. “The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism.” Discuss this passage from the book and any relevance it may have in modern times.
- “Now that the lives of the children of the Pilgrims no longer involved an arduous and terrifying struggle for survival, they had begun to take the Indians for granted…by choosing to pursue economic prosperity at the expense of the Indians, the English put at risk everything their mothers and fathers had striven so heroically to create.” Are there parallels to this passage at other times in history and today?
- Benjamin Church was able to establish relationships with the Indians. How did this aid in his survival? What happened to the others that took a more aggressive approach to the Indians?
- Mary Rowlandson wrote The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, an account of her capture by the Indians that became one of America’s first bestsellers. How significant was her capture?
- Mayflower reports that, in 2002, it was estimated there were approximately 35 million descendants of the Mayflower passengers in the US, which is about 10% of the total US population. Are any of the members of your book club descendents of the Mayflower? If not, how did their ancestors come to America?
- In 1863, Abraham Lincoln established the holiday of Thanksgiving “a cathartic celebration of nationhood that would have baffled and probably appalled the godly Pilgrims.” Compare and contrast our modern Thanksgiving traditions with the events of the first Thanksgiving.
Purchase Mayflower at your favorite bookseller
|Nathaniel Philbrick grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a BA in English from Brown University and an MA in America Literature from Duke University, where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. He was Brown University’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978, the same year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI. After working as an editor at Sailing World magazine, he wrote and edited several books about sailing. In 1986, Philbrick moved to Nantucket with his wife Melissa and their two children. In 1994, he published his first book about the island’s history, Away Off Shore, followed by a study of the Nantucket’s native legacy titled Abram’s Eyes. In 2000, he published the award-winning novels In the Heart of the Sea followed by Sea of Glory. Mayflower was a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award and winner of the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction.|
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