Godfrey Hodgson: Feathers ruffled by book claiming to debunk 'myths' of first ThanksgivingHistorians in the News
The provocative claim that there was no turkey in the Pilgrims' first harvest feast in 1621 comes from a newly published history of Thanksgiving by British journalist and historian Godfrey Hodgson.
But devotees of holiday authenticity need not kiss the gobbler goodbye. Hodgson's claim is more tosh than truth, according to scholars and Pilgrim experts.
"There were turkeys there," declared the president of the Organization of American Historians, Richard White, who is the Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University.
"Do whatever you can do to lay this scurrilous rumor aside," pleaded Kathleen Curtin, food historian at the Plimoth Plantation living-history museum in Plymouth, Mass., recoiling from a gaggle of inquiries prompted by the book.
"We had a film crew from 'CBS Sunday Morning' -- they had it on 'good authority' that there were no turkeys," she said. "It's so frustrating."
The "authority" is Hodgson's book, "A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the Myth of the First Thanksgiving." His account -- featured Nov. 12 in The Chronicle's Sunday Book Review -- tackles several alleged myths about the Pilgrims.
"There were, however, no turkeys at Plymouth," he writes, describing this revelation as the "most shocking of all, given the central part played by turkey in the modern mystique of the holiday."
The publisher, PublicAffairs Books of New York, touts the purported revelation as a key selling point. The book's Web page description begins with the absence of turkey, and the book's dust jacket declares, "There was, for a start, no turkey."
One shocked reader, were he alive, might be William Bradford, the famous governor of Plymouth Colony whose account -- "Bradford's History 'Of Plimoth Plantation' " -- includes what the Pilgrims gathered in their first harvest in 1621: "And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many."
Another new book on the Pilgrims, the best-selling "Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick, devotes a chapter to Thanksgiving that accepts Bradford's account of the "great store of wild Turkies" among the food that was gathered. ...
comments powered by Disqus
Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs - 11/24/2006
Be kind to Mr. Hodgson. As the rest of his article indicates, he relied on the work of the late Professor James Deetz, whose book claiming the Pilgrims did not have turkey at their 1621 festivities received widespread praise from reviewers. The claim was nonsense, but how was a poor journalist to know? Perhaps he should have read "1621, A Historian Looks Anew at Thanksgiving," - my review of the National Geographic (with Plimoth Plantation) book, "1621, A New Look at Thanksgiving." That popularizing book ignores turkeys and repeats much of Deetz's assumptions. The review is online at:
Charles Lee Jackson - 11/24/2006
Further information on this Hodgson at
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Transcribed Document: Soviet Politburo Discussed CIA Billion Dollar Spy Adolf Tolkachev
- Pentagon withholds Iraq War photos showing detainee abuse
- These Rebels Have Amassed A Library From Syria’s Ruins
- Was 1916 fire at Canadian Parliament set by German saboteur?
- United Nations Calls On U.S. To Pay African Americans Reparations For Slavery
- Juan Cole says America’s inclination to turn to the military started with Manifest Destiny
- History Jobs Drop
- Paul Krugman gives credence to Robert J. Gordon's pessimism about American economic growth
- Harvard President Drew Faust Condemns Free Tuition Proposal from Outsider Overseers Ticket
- Andrew Roberts says Trump is the Mussolini of America with double the vulgarity