THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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New edition of Philbrick’s Mayflower
The Folio Society have published a new version of Nathaniel Philbrick’s important text about the Mayflower
Reviewed by Daniel M. Byway
In Paul Theroux’s introduction to the Folio Society’s new edition of Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower, he writes that “Mayflower in its detail is not a narrative most Americans are aware of, but it is one that everyone should know. For a country smug in the simplicities of its creation myths, and congratulating itself on its ability to make a land of peace and plenty from colonization, this wise and well-researched history is a much-needed correction.”
With 2020 set to be a year of celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage from Great Britain to the New World, the publication of this new edition of Philbrick’s work provides an important historical counterweight to the more polished narrative that accompanies the story of the Pilgrims and their experience as settlers in the United States. By providing a strong Native American voice through an incisive history of the events, Philbrick raises the question of who owns the narrative of arguably the most important moment in American history.
The trouble with that clash of conceptions, though, is it goes to the heart of some of the biggest questions challenging the USA today. Faced with a much more rigorously entrenched set of beliefs on what the United States should be and what it represents, it’s fitting that the Folio Society have really thought about how to present their edition of Philbrick’s text. They’ve developed a work which is less a topical op-ed to shout down other ideas, and more a valued historical artefact with which to review the events of the 1600s in a new light, asking us to think about our place in history, and how we negotiate with American identity.
This isn’t Twitter history, it’s actual history. The reliably robust quality that the Folio Society offers its works results in this being a well produced, richly interesting and graphically appealing book to read. What makes the Folio Society’s edition of Mayflower really special though is that it’s not just a physical object to treasure, the ideas it contains and the thoughtful interaction it offers with history is a much richer treasure of its own.
The Folio Society's edition of Mayflower is available exclusively from The Folio Society website. Prices: UK £44.95 | US $69.95 | Can $88.95 | Aus $99.95