It has been almost half a year since I used this space to recommend an article or book that I believe could be of particular interest to those of us involved in genealogy and who are also interested in history.
As a Mayflower descendant, I have an interest in books and articles about the Mayflower story and the history and myths surrounding it. I have a small collection of books on the subject and a DVD of the History Channel program "Desperate Crossing The Untold Story of The Mayflower." I try to keep my eye out for any new books about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims' settlement in New England, but I am interested in serious works and particularly in any that seem to bring new information or a new perspective to the tale. So I am not sure how I missed the 2010 publication of "Making Haste From Babylon" by Nick Bunker.
I have not yet finished the book, but already I am impressed with the detail and depth of the book. Many will find Mr. Bunker too detail oriented in places, but with patience they will see how he weaves seemingly peripheral events and minutiae into a fuller exposition of the Mayflower saga. Mr. Bunker departs from the well-known but simplistic explanation of the Pilgrims' voyage as one of religious freedom. He explains with precision the economic, political, scientific and religious milieu in which the Pilgrims and others existed and weaves together how each of these elements and more led to the Mayflower voyage. Mr. Bunker's book makes the perfect companion read to Nathaniel Philbrick's book, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006).
If you are a Mayflower descendant you will want to read this book to deepen your understanding of what drove your ancestor(s) to risk the North Atlantic and settlement in a world they knew very little about. If you are simply a history junkie, then you will also want to read this book for the glimpse it provides into the world that preceded and followed the momentous events of 1620.
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Scan of the dust jacket from the author's personal copy of Making Haste From Babylon (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010).