This vivid, deeply moving book begins in London in 1620 as Pilgrim representatives sign a contract to purchase the freighter Mayflower. We accompany them on their harrowing voyage across the Atlantic, through the rigors of the first New England winter and the threat of Indian attack as they desperately search for the home they eventually find at Plymouth. Once there, they must continue the struggle against brutal weather and disease. With masterly skill, New York Times bestselling historian and novelist Thomas Fleming gives us life-size portraits of the Pilgrim leaders. The Pilgrims' unique achievements - the Mayflower Compact, their tolerance of other faiths, the strict separation of church and state - are discussed in the context of the first year's anxieties and crises. Fleming writes admiringly of the younger men who emerged in the first year as the real leaders of the colony - William Bradford and Miles Standish. And he provides new insights into the deep humanity and tolerance of the Pilgrims' spiritual shepherd, Elder William Brewster. On the first Thanksgiving, already in the Pilgrim mind is a dawning consciousness that they are the forerunners of a great nation. It is implicit in William Bradford's words, "As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light kindled here has shone until many. . . ."
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February 10, 2012
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