Friday, December 18, 2015

Mayflower: Courage, Community, and War

  Ten little Indians came together in early 21st Century America to discuss Nathaniel Philbrick’s portrait of our country's birthing in the 17th Century:   “There are two possible responses to a world suddenly gripped by terror and contention. There is the Moseley way: get mad and get even. But as the course of King Philip's War proved, unbridled arrogance and fear only feed the flames of violence. Then there is the (Benjamin) Church way. Instead of killing him, try to bring him around to your way of thinking. First and foremost, treat him like a human being. For Church, success in war was about coercion rather than slaughter, and in this he anticipated the welcoming, transformative beast that eventually became, once the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were in place, the United States.”

Kenny G:  This book had pluses and minuses.  On the plus side, this was an extremely interesting book from an historical view.  This was history I either forgot, or never learned.  The maps were good, not great.  Minuses:  too many tribes, skirmishes, war.  B or B+

Ron B:  I read the first part, as our host instructed.  An interesting book, well written, covered some very interesting history.  A-

Dick Arms:  I found it extremely interesting.  For two years, I lived in this area, looking down on Fall River, all the places in the book.  Great research, the author wrote it well, nicely done.  He could have written two books:  one on Plymouth, and one on King Phillips War.  Good read, went on too long.  A-

Tommy G:  Good history, great deal of research, adequate writing.  I enjoyed the first part and the last part.  55 years before the war was not very interesting.  B+

Dick Jensen:  I enjoyed it a lot, learned a lot.  A-

Keith:  I saw it as revisionist history.  The title is mis-leading as most of the book occurred on land, not on the Mayflower.  One has to read between the lines for the lives of the Pilgrims, and between non-existent lines for the Indians.  I read it as a form like this:  What is the value of history?  Here there were too many facts presented.  The Pilgrims showed up on a wooden ship, prostelize the Indians if they could, killed them if they couldn’t.  The Praying Indians were spies.  Today, through oil companies such as Exxon, Dow Chemical, we are the same way:  Religion is no longer in the mainstream, but money is.  This is a cynical view, but I don’t care.  When the author ran out of facts, he kept on talking.  This would have been a good 200 page book.   B- 

Bob Simon:  I thought that there is so much history, consolidated into grandular portions.  Fascinating for the most part:  people seeking to escape religious freedom, when confronted with survival, became animalistic.  Not unlike [William Golding’s] Lord of the Flies.  The Thanksgiving myth we grew up with was really a story of survival.  If you can’t beat them, subvert them.  A cruel strategy.  I enjoyed the documents presented, e.g., you can read the Mayflower Compact.  Fascinating how they erected this confederacy.  They exploited the Indians.  A-

Rob E:  I thought it should be two books, Mayflower and King Phillips War.  The book was good for me because of the gap between the Mayflower and the first settlers, and 1776.  But too much for this one book.  Philbrick handled Bradford differently from the National Geographic version (Saints & Stringers).  Two civilizations clash, people die.  I was unprepared for the sachem’s head on a pole.  The first part I read, the second part I skimmed, as it was not compelling, to figure out:  B

Jack Ferrell:  There was a line from a song on the radio I heard on the way over tonight that best describes the book:  too little chocolate, too many chores.”  The chocolate was when it talked about “my town” – the chores was the timeline of history.  I found it difficult keeping up with the chores.  B+

Mike: I feel that I learned a great deal from this book.   Were there too many facts, too many Indian names and place names?  Perhaps, but unlike a fiction book, I think I will remember some of these real characters from our nation’s earliest days:   Massasoit, the wise sachem of the Pokanokets; Benjamin Church, the 33-year old carpenter who found he loved the military skirmishes, relished recruiting his own men to include Indian warriors.  And John Howland, the servant who came up to get some fresh air and almost lost his life because of it, yet went on to represent the true American dream:  Servant rises beyond his status to success in the New World.  A-