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The World of Plymouth Plantation


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About the Author

Carla Gardina Pestana is Professor of History and Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World at the University of California, Los Angeles. A Guggenheim Fellow, she is author of The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire and The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640–1661.


Thanksgiving, Squanto, the Mayflower, and its compact—we all know the Pilgrims’ story, or we think we do. In this succinct, elegantly written book, Pestana introduces readers to the reality behind the myth. The World of Plymouth Plantation is about mothers as well as fathers, about a place where Native Americans were sometimes but not always friends, and where the rest of the world was never far away.
*Eliga H. Gould, author of Among the Powers of the Earth*

Pestana has solved the conundrum of how to write about the Pilgrims and Plymouth. Employing a variety of inventive lenses, she treats Plymouth Plantation as a colony among colonies, interconnected with other ventures and with all kinds of Atlantic enterprises. The World of Plymouth Plantation is a model of how to write history and a must-read for anyone interested in early America.
*Karen Ordahl Kupperman, author of The Jamestown Project*

Four centuries on, Plymouth Colony still fascinates those in search of origin stories for the United States. For better or worse, patterns of English–Native relations, of religious zeal, of political democracy, and perhaps even of national independence all have been traced to a small band of seemingly extraordinary migrants who debarked in 1620. Yet, in this concise but learned book, Pestana shows just how ordinary those migrants were in the broader Atlantic context of the seventeenth century. That very ordinariness makes Plymouth matter more, rather than less, for our understanding of the nation’s past.
*Daniel K. Richter, author of Before the Revolution*

The story we all thought we knew is, in Pestana’s expert hands, transformed. Based on her meticulous excavation and skillful interpretation of the records generated by early settlers, The World of Plymouth Plantation takes us beyond the Mayflower, the rock, and the shared meal with natives to a place where real people lived and worked, experienced joy and sorrow, and connected with the world beyond the colony.
*Sharon V. Salinger, author of Taverns and Drinking in Early America*

In this compulsively readable book, Pestana breathes new life into Plymouth Plantation, too often imagined as an isolated and static place frozen in time. She demonstrates that the English men and women who occupied Plymouth lived in a complex world that defied Pilgrim stereotypes. Addressing topics that range from God and gender to guns and stockings, Pestana demonstrates that Plymouth, far from being an isolated incubator of American values, was embedded in transatlantic networks and entangled in complex webs of meaning all its own.
*Eric Hinderaker, author of Boston’s Massacre*

Illuminating…Adds depth to many founding legends of American culture…Pestana brings the early decades of the colony to rich and nuanced life.
*Publishers Weekly*

Explores Plymouth’s grip on the American historical imagination.

An impressive achievement…There’s virtually no tidbit that Pestana overlooks; giving fresh exposure to such details in different settings exposes a more complex, more alien, yet more recognizable Plymouth than many of us have seen before…Succinctly and ably does so much to shake up, refresh, and reengage a realer Plymouth Plantation…It is especially welcome during this quadricentenary observance of the Mayflower arrival.
*American Literary History*

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