If you like books but hate reading, then check out the latest from the History Channel. They are now running an excellent show Desperate Crossing: the Untold Story of the Mayflower. Based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s excellent ‘Mayflower’ (he is one of the talking heads) as well as other sources, this production takes you back to the lovely boat ride and the first year in Plymouth… scurvy and all. Can you imagine landing in Massachusetts, in December, and immediately having to chop down trees and build a house? And you are being watched the whole time by people who just might jump out of the woods and kill you. The writing and scholarship here is top notch; and the cinematography, locations and costumes bring it to life (although you would really need smell-o-vision to completely capture the whole experience). But I have a complaint with the History Channel website; I went to find an image of either Massasoit or Squanto who are quite fetching, and they only had pictures of the pasty white guys! And the production lost a little credibility in one scene, because by all accounts when Samoset first greeted the Pilgrims he was completely naked (in March?!).
It has been estimated that 35 million Americans can trace their ancestry back to the original Pilgrims — 35 million drifting, befuddled souls who buy so many self-help books that The New York Times was forced to create a separate best-seller category so that wonderful non-fiction books like ‘Mayflower’ wouldn’t get flushed down the list.
Wednesday at 2pm (and I’m sure all through the weekend) on The History Channel