We don’t think of books in practical terms, but Travel with the Pilgrim Fathers (part of the ‘Travel with’ series of Day One) is a sturdy wee guide, just asking to be put in your pocket.
The title of the publication gives the impression that it is a guidebook tracing the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers following their disembarkation from the Mayflower. Instead, it is largely a historical treatment of the journey of the Pilgrims, from its genesis in the Old World to its settlement in the New World.
A brief historical overview of the reasons behind the need to travel and the circumstances of the journey is given. The author then offers a carefully annotated history of the travels and travails of the early Pilgrims, referencing the locations of places of interest mentioned in the narrative.
Integral to the story is the high volume of interesting and helpful photographs that help illuminate not only the historical context but the legacy of these early settlers.
Of note is the stark difference between many of the fascinating historical facts in the book (such as the roots of Harvard University, whose official seal still bears the originating creed veritas Christo et ecclesiae — ‘the truth of Christ and the church’) and the world as we now know it.
Cultural contrasts with the modern world also feature, amusingly illustrated by the ‘hardship’ experienced by the rather severe Pilgrims, who suffered at times when ‘the only food being available was lobster’ (considered a lowly food due to its abundance).
There are a number of interesting biographical sketches of leading Puritan figures. The author carefully and fairly traces their formative influences. At times, so detailed are the individual histories that they seem indistinguishable and it is hard to keep track of all the players.
The book finishes with a series of helpful mini-biographies, including one of David Brainerd. Theologically, it is sympathetic to Puritan doctrine and this contributes to its readability.
This is an accessible entry point into the world of the Pilgrims, but would not suffice as the traveller’s sole source of geographical guidance. It would, however, prove an admirable companion for a visitor interested in that unique era of church history.