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Posted April 21, 2014
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Posted November 18, 2013
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The historian Nathaniel Philbrick won the National Book Award in the year 2000 for his book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, and years later he won the 2007 Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction for Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. Penguin has issued a 50-page excerpt from that later book entitled The First Thanksgiving that narrows the larger story to the first year the Pilgrims stole corn stored by the Indians on Cape Cod before landing in Plymouth Bay. They chose a place to live, which happened to be the same location an earlier group had tried to settle only to die of disease leaving human skulls above ground for those after them to find. Philbrick reminds us of the cougars once native to New England, and the long history of attempted settlements and skeptic Indian tribes, some of whom had English speakers who had travelled to Europe.
This is a remarkable short monograph on a discreet period of time that will whet your appetite for more history. In his preface, Philbrick reminds us that the peace that graced the Pilgrims first years deteriorated into some of the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history in the time of those first Pilgrim's children. That fighting would be called King Philip's War.
This book is available only as an ebook and is for sale for a tiny fee in the usual places, e.g., Amazon, B&N. I read a copy I obtained through Netgalley. By the way, Philbrick suggests that venison may have been the main meal on Thanksgiving, though migrating fowl and fish were probably also on the menu.
Posted November 16, 2013