Massachusetts


stairs
Photo by shaymus022 used under a Creative Commons license.

Howard Mansfield, In the Memory House (Fulcrum Publishing, 1995).
An excellent collection of essays approaching New England’s history – mostly New Hampshire, but Massachusetts as well – from a variety of angles. A brief Part I roams through small-town historical societies and museums. Part II considers ancestors remembered and forgotten: Johnny Appleseed. Jack Kerouac, Franklin Pierce. Parts III and IV range more widely across town-meeting democracy, two murders in Peterborough, N.H., the proprietor of a drugstore, elms and other missing tall trees, Mount Monadnock, Walden Pond, and Boston’s West End.

Here is a bio of Mansfield. Mansfield was Laura Knoy’s guest on New Hampshire Public Radio, which also posted this “study guide” (.pdf) to the book. Here is Mansfield on the Paula Gordon show. This book’s fans probably will like Cow Hampshire, a New Hampshire blog. And here is the skinny on Mansfield’s 650-pound pig.

Buy it at Amazon.com.

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Plimoth Plantation
Photo of Plimoth Plantation by romulusnr used under a Creative Commons license.

Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (Viking, 2006).
Really two histories in one book. The first is an account of the Pilgrims settling in Plymouth, from their departure from England for Holland, to their wind-blown arrival in what is now Massachusetts (instead of the mouth of the Hudson River, as per their charter), to their tumultuous dealings with local Native Americans. Philbrick then jumps ahead fifty years to to King Philips’s War between colonists and natives, in relative terms the bloodiest conflict in the country’s history. The conflict spread from southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island across New England, and saw the destruction of many colonial towns, including those along the Connecticut River valley, as well as the death, starvation and exile of huge numbers of Native Americans. Both histories are compelling on their own, and Philbrick is interested in the ways that relations between the peoples changed in those five decades

ReviewsofBooks.com collects several reviews here. Others include Russell Shorto (The New York Times Book Review); Richard B. Speed (History News Network); Melanie Lauwers (The Cape Cod Times); David Dxurec (eHistory at Ohio State University). Writing in Indian Country Today, Paula Peters says that though he tries to be fair, Philbrick slants the story in favor of the Pilgrims. Alden Mudge interviews Philbrick. Worthwhile blog posts from Gentle Reader, JohnSherck, Liam Sullivan, Victor Niederhoffer, Jeff Grim, and Sarah. And you can listen to a brief piece on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Buy this book at Amazon.com.