Nathaniel Philbrick

Introduced by Paul Theroux

This lavishly illustrated edition of Mayflower meets you on board a storm-lashed ship filled with resolute Pilgrims and leaves you a generation later in the blood-soaked new American nation.


‘Vivid and remarkably fresh’

  1. New York Times

Nathaniel Philbrick presents the true story behind America’s sacred 400-year-old history, giving equal voice to the immigrant forefathers and the Native Americans. Based on exhaustive research and exhibiting a rare gift for creating a captivating yet scholarly narrative, Philbrick – one of America’s best-known historians – puts right an oft-misrepresented history. Novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux brilliantly introduces what is essentially a two-fold story – the arrival and integration of the Pilgrims, and the colony’s descent into all-out war just a generation later.

Mayflower is one of the best accounts I know of the complexities of settlement and human conflict’

  1. From the introduction

Production details

Bound in blocked cloth with an inset label printed with artwork by Phoebe Roze

Set in Garamond Premier Pro

464 pages

Frontispiece plus 24 pages of colour illustrations

7 maps

Printed endpapers

Cloth slipcase

9½˝ x 6½˝

An award-winning writer with a fresh perspective

Philbrick’s retelling is an utterly compelling interpretation that is mindful of contemporary thought and respectful of his responsibility to accurately represent both parties. Like the most thorough and observant investigative journalist, Philbrick carefully sorts the facts gleaned from his exhaustive research, unpicks the story and pieces it back together to create a page-turning social history that made the final selection of the Pulitzer Prize.

To complement Philbrick’s work, Folio picture researchers have widely searched and sourced an incredible collection of colour illustrations from, and related to, the historical period. Oil paintings such as Washing the fur and sorting the wool depict daily life, Native American culture is portrayed in engravings such as Philip, King of Mount Hope and artefacts of cultural significance – The Elio Indian Bible and a brass peace medal – further enrich the narrative. Seven maps throughout the book plot expeditions and key geographical locations, while the endpapers include exquisite detailing from a map of New England drawn by celebrated 17th-century cartographer John Seller. This is the ultimate edition of the story that founded America.

From small beginnings to the creation of a nation

In 1620 the Mayflower and its cargo of 102 passengers, plus their meagre collection of possessions, made painfully slow progress from England to America on a perilous journey thwarted by unmerciful weather and a leaking ship. Having set sail from their ‘un-Godly’ homeland to establish a new colony where they could freely practise their religious beliefs, the Pilgrim Fathers selected New Plymouth as the site of their maiden colony. The first winter over-delivered on their wish for a pious and simple existence; the wattle-and-daub huts and rationed food tested their mettle while the catalogue of illnesses slowly picked them off until just half the original number remained by the spring of 1621.

Unshakable resolve, religious fervour and bloody-mindedness played important roles in the colony’s survival but without the agricultural expertise and geographical nous of the Native Americans, history would have taken a very different course. As the colony flourished, more pilgrims arrived; memories of hardships faded and religious zeal gave way to territorial greed. Just a generation after the arrival of the First Fathers, the tentative mutual respect that existed between the Native Americans and Pilgrim immigrants disintegrated into outright warfare that wreaked unimaginable destruction on the native population.


Nathaniel Philbrick is an award-winning historian and writer. His first book Away Off Shore (1994), a history of Nantucket, was followed in 1998 by a study of Nantucket’s native legacy, Abram’s Eyes, but he made his name on both sides of the Atlantic with his acclaimed maritime history In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (2000). It won the National Book Award for non-fiction and was a New York Times and a Sunday Times bestseller. Mayflower (2006) was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. It won the Massachusetts Book Award for non-fiction, and was named one of the ten ‘Best Books of 2006’ by the New York Times Book Review. Nathaniel Philbrick has also written acclaimed histories of the American Revolution: Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution (2013), Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (2016) and In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown (2018). A champion sailboat racer and long-time resident of Nantucket, he is founding director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies on Nantucket Island and a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association. He has written extensively about sailing including a memoir, Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage that Brought a Family Together (new edition 2018).


Paul Theroux is an American novelist and travel writer. His renowned travel books include The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), The Old Patagonian Express (1979), Riding the Iron Rooster (1988), The Happy Isles of Oceania (1992), The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari (2013) and Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads (2015). His highly acclaimed novels include The Mosquito Coast (1982), My Secret History (1989), Kowloon Tong (1997) and Mother Land (2017). He lives in Hawaii and Cape Cod.


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