Award-Winner Nathaniel Philbrick on the Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard talk with Nathaniel Philbrick, historian, winner of the National Book Award, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and author of Mayflower: Voyage, Community, and War. Mr. Philbrick shares what we should know about the actual historical events of the First Thanksgiving in 1621. He describes who the Pilgrims were, their beliefs and educational traditions, and the obstacles they overcame to found Plymouth Colony. They review the seminal documents of this history, such as the Mayflower Compact, and lessons about the Pilgrims, Patuxets, Wampanoags, and their world. They discuss how the Native Peoples of 17th-century Massachusetts lived, worshiped, and governed themselves, and noted figures like Massasoit and Squanto. They also explore the experiences of Pilgrim and Native women, and their role in the First Thanksgiving. Lastly, Mr. Philbrick explains how the relationship between the Pilgrims and Native Peoples changed in the decades leading up to King Philip’s War. The interview concludes with a reading from his book, Mayflower.

Stories of the WeekHigher education is expecting to see a sharp enrollment decline over the next 20 years, in what industry experts are calling “the enrollment cliff,” as a result of declining birth rates during the Great Recession. Is the highly respected New York State Board of Regents high-school graduation exam on its way out?


Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of the international bestsellers In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the National Book Award; Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Sea of Glory, winner of the Roosevelt Naval History Prize. His writing has also appeared in Vanity Fair, the New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. He has appeared on the Today Show, the Morning Show, Dateline, PBS’s American Experience, C-SPAN, and NPR. He lives on Nantucket Island.

The next episode will air on Weds., November 30th, with Peter Cozzens, the award-winning author of The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West.

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