Book Review: Mayflower (2006)

A story of courage, community, and war
by Nathaniel Philbrick
2006, Penguin Group, 413 pages

MayflowerMost of us know about the Pilgrims from our history and civics classes.  Or at least we have the Thanksgiving imagery—oven-roasted turkeys, linen tablecloths, silverware, Indians, stern-looking white men with buckles on their hats, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.

Well, that’s about it, then.

No, just kidding.  In reality, the second English permanent settlement, consisting of Puritan Separationists, was lucky to have survived the first winter of 1620.

And the main benefit derived from the Indians was the Indians’ forbearance from annihilating the Pilgrims. Continue reading

Book Review: In the Heart of the Sea (2000)

There once was a whaleship from Nantucket
by Phyllis Wright

Heart of the SeaMany don’t realize that in early 1800s America, commercial whaling was a multimillion-dollar business.  Millions of gallons of whale oil were used in America and Europe for lamp fuel and lubrication, in addition to dozens of other uses: It was a fundamental element of paint, varnish, and soap.  Perhaps the main center of the whaling industry in North America was Nantucket, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts inhabited mainly by Quakers. Continue reading