Tag Archives: Origins

Books!: Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

At this point, it was many moons and a few short posts ago that I saw Ric Burns’ new film on The Pilgrims, which was part of the Smithsonian’s History Film Forum. Write-up here. (If you haven’t seen The Pilgrims yet, go do it.) The summary of the film is that the founding of Plimoth Colony has but the most passing of relationships with the popular perceptions we celebrate every Thanksgiving holiday.

Shortly after the Film Forum, I was at the library when the colorful cover of Mayflower caught my eye. I saw the author was one Nathaniel Philbrick, who most recently is known for having written the book on which the recent Chris Hemsworth movie, In the Heart of the Sea, is based. I have neither seen the film nor read the book, but I had heard the book was positively reviewed by people who matter. That was enough for me, so Mayflower came home with me.



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In 9th grade, we had to watch the movie Gettysburg for class.  We were all enthralled – a group of upper middle class girls who had probably never known there were experiences like that out there – and a lot of the girls cried at the end when the violins came sweeping in after a victorious conclusion.  One classmate mentioned she had been reading the book it was based off of, Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara.  Always a book purist, I had to go read it.  Then I found out that it was part of a trilogy, bookended by two novels written by  Shaara’s son Jeff, Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure.  

The events in these three novels, while being tactically accurate, were nonetheless still fictional.  That is, the dialogue, the thought processes, and much of the characterization came from the authors.  So I had to start reading biographies, to get the facts.  And I never stopped.  Except recently, when I started school again and lost my discretionary time.  But my focus has been very narrow so I must go read ALL THE BOOKS to catch up.

On our senior trip to DC in high school, our first stop was Gettysburg.  After trying to sleep all night, the last thing anyone wanted to do was get off the bus and look around.  In their defense, it was only 8 in the morning.  The particularly obstinate kept sleeping on the bus. No one understood why I was practically jumping up and down in excitement.  They gave me funny looks.  I gave them funny looks.  We were standing with the statue of Father Corby himself and nobody cared.  Still not sure what was wrong with them.

After graduating, DC was the only location I considered, for the history.  It’s easy distance to almost anywhere on the Atlantic coast and it’s chock full of Revolutionary and Civil War things.  In the DC/VA/MD area, you can’t spit without hitting an historical marker.  Only after I arrived did I consider important things like a job, which isn’t related to history at all but supports the hobby, sort of, because the hobby is about to get more expensive.

So that’s how it started.  That’s how I got here.  Add a parental fascination with old, Victorian graveyards and history things and the philosophical need to back every statement up with evidence.

But really, I do it because it’s fun and I can learn stuff.  What more do I need?

Stay tuned for the discussion group, the crazy reenactor guy, the time-traveling chaplain and a serious lack of timely updates.

History nerds are the best kind of nerds.

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