Leading into the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, Martyn Whittock examines the lives of the “saints” (members of the Separatist puritan congregations) and “strangers” (economic migrants) on the original ship.
Scandal and tragedy runs through many of these tales. Whittock devotes a chapter to the rebels and scoundrels of Plymouth. Myles Standish led brutal outrages against the Native Americans ... The entertaining narrative of Mayflower Lives carries the reader through the times as reality and not children's stories.
... an incisive series of biographical and historical essays on the Mayflower’s passengers ... Myths aside, the striking quality about the Mayflower’s trans-Atlantic journey—and this emerges beautifully in Mr. Whittock’s narrative—is just how archetypally American the whole affair was ... Mr. Whittock is refreshingly reluctant to judge his subjects harshly. Gone are the usual snide remarks about the Puritans’ narrowness and grimness ... It’s perhaps not so surprising that such an assemblage of resolute men and women should contain a number of memorable lives, though it is surprising just how much historians have discovered about people who, with only two or three exceptions, remained unknown in their own day. Mr. Whittock has woven their stories together wonderfully ... Mr. Whittock displays a fine eye for detail, too.
For Whittock, the stories of these complex, interconnected lives, their successes and shortcomings, for better or worse, have imparted fundamental and enduring influence on American culture and identity ... This accessible book, among several that have demythologized Mayflower history, will appeal to readers at all levels.