Books by Cotton Coulson

Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Thanksgiving, the myth, surrenders to Thanksgiving, the real story, in this collaboration of historians, scholars, and descendants of the Wampanoag people. The original event, attended by 90 Natives and 52 colonists probably lasted for three days and was held for political reasons. The village, Pauxet, now called Plymouth, was empty of its Native people who died of plague and left their fields, stores of corn, and supplies of baskets and pots. When the English arrived, they used the materials and saw them as God's providence. The Wampanoag interpreted their use as stealing. Nevertheless, a relationship developed between the decimated Wampanoag and the settlers based on the need for a military alliance of mutual protection against neighboring tribes. A gathering to celebrate the harvest was traditional to both peoples but was unlikely to be called Thanksgiving or to have a religious base. Neither turkey nor cranberries were eaten at the feast. Thanksgiving as we know it today evolved from this first gathering but hardly resembles it. This handsome volume is liberally illustrated with color photographs taken at the Plimoth Plantation with its staff in costumes of the period recreating the early days. Although the explanatory text indicates that the photos are of actors, the captions often do not, which may lead to some confusion. Despite this flaw, the story is well told and brings current scholarship to young people in an accessible form. A chronology, index, and brief explanation of the historical fact-finding process increases the usefulness to teachers and students. For another example on this same subject, see Kate Waters's Giving Thanks (below). (foreword, bibliography, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 10-13)Read full book review >