This superb book secures for the Pilgrims their iconic perch among the earliest founders of colonial America. Bunker, a British investment banker turned journalist, has succeeded in writing a major history, unprecedented in its sweep, of the Plymouth Colony, a history centered on the 1620s but not exclusive to that decade. If short on interpretation and on the drama inherent in the settlers' enterprise, it is long on facts. Bunker takes his history in two directions, downward into some never before used archives (which allows him to add detail and texture), and outward into the entire world context of the Pilgrim settlements. Never before has such a comprehensive and thoroughly researched study of the subject appeared. If sometimes fatiguing by the volume of detail (e.g., in a disquisition on one settlement, directions to the site include turn left at the Dunkin' Donuts), it scoops up every relevant character and links all to the basic tale of indomitable courage, religious faith, commercial ambition, international rivalry, and domestic politics. The results are stunning. Certain to be the dominating work on the Pilgrims for decades. 20 illus., 4 maps. Paperback. 489 pgs.