Friday, November 5, 2010

An upcoming Thanksgiving gift – with time to order them, too!

My family 2008, not 1620, at Plimoth Plantation
(The real Pilgrims were just as naughty)
In 2008 I was a New Hampshire delegate to the Triennial Congress held by the Mayflower Society. This is an event in Plymouth, Massachusetts and a chance for all the delegates from all over the US and Canada to get together to discuss changes in policy and to elect a new board for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. I can blog about this meeting another time, and I had a great time with my Mayflower cousins, sightseeing and observing the meetings. I also had a chance to meet several authors, including Nathaniel Philbrick, but also another lesser known author named Glenn Alan Cheney.

At this weekend in Plymouth I bought about five or six copies of Glenn’s book, simply titled Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims’ First Year in America, and he graciously autographed them for me. I gave them out at Christmas, but they would have been equally appropriate for Thanksgiving gifts. His book is small, slim (only 291 pages), yet elegantly bound in hardcover with a ribbon bookmarker. It is entertaining for all ages, yet gives many true facts and accounts of the first year of the Plymouth Colony. I enjoyed Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War, yet it weighs several pounds, totals 480 pages and contains daunting footnotes for the average reader. I loved it, but it was not for the average person interested in finding out a few facts on the Pilgrims. Even less “user friendly” is Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs’s Strangers and Pilgrims. I have looked forward to Jeremy’s book for years, and read it cover to cover when it was finally published. I even had a great discussion with him on the subject many years ago. But Jeremy’s book comes in at a whopping 928 pages and is a very scholarly read.

For an entertaining look at the naughtier side of life in Plymouth in 1620, you can try The Times of their Lives: Life, Love and Death in the Plymouth Colony, by James Deetz (former Harvard Archealogist and consultant for Plimoth Plantation Museum), or The Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger Among the Pilgrims, by David Lindsay (about the More children who were four indentured servants under the age of eight) . Both of these books are less than ten years old, and represent a new view of looking at the lives of our formerly sacred founding families.

There are reviews of Glenn’s book on the website below, and in the GSMD newsletters. You can look up reviews at websites like Barnes and Noble and However, as someone who has read all three of the books mentioned above, the latest ones written on the Pilgrims, I would recommend Glenn Cheney’s book for your gift giving list. If you are a true student of history, with a couple of weeks to kill reading a scholarly tome, you can try the Philbrick or Bangs books for yourself. Or tell Santa they are on your wish list.

For the purists, you can still find copies of Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622 or George F. Willison’s 1945 Saints and Strangers. My perennial favorite will always be William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, the version edited by Samuel Eliot Morison, 1952. There is nothing to equal reading a firsthand account! For genealogists, the book The Pilgrim Migration by Robert Charles Anderson is my recommendation. to order a copy of Cheney's Thanksgiving or to take the quiz on your knowledge of the Plymouth Colony’s first year. Post the results of your Thanksgiving quiz here in the comments!

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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