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'Thanksgiving, The Pilgrims’ First Year in America', published by New London Librarium, New London, CT, 2007

By Elaine S. Laubach

As I finished reading this book, I sat awed, stunned and saddened, all at the same time. This book was truly overwhelming in its scope and depth of what our forefathers had undergone and endured for their beliefs. And also to realize that the determination of so few created our nation as it is today even with its faults and warts, so to speak.

Mr. Cheney has written a very readable, well researched book. It is obvious that he had a great deal of persistence in searching out and separating what was perhaps myth and legend that surrounds the Mayflower pilgrims and Thanksgiving. He is to be commended in that endeavor.

The chapter titled “Tabuttantam” is an excellent chapter on what the first Thanksgiving might have been like. As there is no written account of what actually took place, Mr. Cheney draws a very vivid picture of a day that came to be one of our national holidays. For example, Mrs. Hopkins, Mrs. Winslow, Mrs. Billington and Mrs. Brewster along with 7 teen-aged girls cooked and served 140 people, ninety who were “guests” It was a three day event and just reading what was probably served makes one’s mouth water. It is so vivid that it is not hard to picture the days and joys of it all.

Thanksgiving is a book not in the style of Mayflower - A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick and Making Haste From Babylon by Nick Bunker, both that go into great detail from the far past and give one a great perspective and history, but Cheney’s book does not disappoint. As I said, it is quite readable and has a smooth flow to it.

Mr. Cheney writes so well that I felt the cold, the wet and the pure misery of the Pilgrims as well as the sadness and sorrow of the deaths of loved ones. Plan to read this book. It can be purchased on Amazon and might even be available in your local library.

Take the time to read the prelude to this book. It is full of information too and will be helpful to the reader.

I have been asked to review another book by James Baker entitled Thanksgiving - The Biography Of An American Holiday but did not have the time to ready a review at this time. I can tell you, gentle reader, that the chapter headings in Baker’s book are intriguing, such as the chapter heading Pilgrims Are for Kids — Thanksgiving in the Progressive Classroom so I will be sure to do a review on this for you.