Jill Lepore reviews the recently popular history Mayflower and pokes some big holes in it. Mostly, she notes that Philbrick tends to rely on only a few sources and is not at all sceptical of those sources.
In proportion to population, King Philip’s War was one of the deadliest wars in American history. More than half of all English settlements in New England were either destroyed or abandoned. Hundreds of colonists were killed. Thousands of Indians died; those who survived, including Philip’s nine-year-old son, Massasoit’s grandson, were loaded on ships and sold into slavery. Because the conflict was, for both sides, a holy war, it was waged with staggering brutality. New England’s Indians fought to take their land back from the Christians, mocking their praying victims: “Where is Your O God?” One, having killed a colonist, stuffed a Bible into his victim’s gutted belly. Puritans interpreted such acts as a sign of God’s wrath, as punishment for their descent into sinfulness. Not only had they become, over the years, less pious than the first generation of settlers; they had also failed to convert the Indians to Christianity. The Boston minister Increase Mather asked, “Why should we suppose that God is not offended with us, when his displeasure is written, in such visible and bloody Characters?”