Townhall.com George Will July 4, 2006
WASHINGTON — For your Fourth of July reading, open a mind-opening book about an immensely important American war concerning which you may know next to nothing. King Philip’s War, the central event in a best-seller that is one of this summer’s publishing surprises, left a lasting imprint on America.
Americans in this era of sterile politics have an insatiable appetite for biographies of the Founders. But why are so many readers turning to a book — “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick — that casts a cool but sympathetic eye on an era usually wrapped in gauzy sentimentality?
One reason might be that it is fun to read about one’s family: Philbrick estimates that there are approximately 35 million descendants of the passengers on the Mayflower. (Do the math: 102 passengers; 3.5 generations in a century. But remember, 52 passengers died of disease and starvation before the first spring.) Perhaps a second answer is that the story is particularly pertinent as America is engaged abroad in a clash of civilizations, and is engaged at home in a debate about immigration and the common culture.
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