A reader of the blog recently wrote in with a question, asking what best edition of Of Plymouth Plantation they should buy. I figured there might be others out there wondering the same thing, so I’m posting an expanded version of my reply here.

Most of the popular editions for sale now are abridged or have modernized language. I would recommend staying away from these. Although I’ve not reviewed them, Bradford’s writing is quite easy to read, at least for the time. An abridgment makes more sense, as the quality of the book, and likely Bradford’s interest in writing it, noticeably fades towards the end. But I suggest you solve that just by stopping when you find the book is no longer useful or interesting, rather than buying a book where the editor has made that decision for you.

If you want a brand new copy, there’s an edition from a few years ago by Caleb Johnson which I believe is complete. It’s available in hard and soft cover.

If you are looking for a cheaper copy, or one with a bit of editing done to it, the classic edition is Samuel Elliot Morrison’s version. This is decent, though Morrison did make some changes, particularly in the later years of Bradford’s account. I’m not sure this is in print any more, but plenty of copies are available at affordable prices on websites like abebooks.com. Look for 20th century editions – you can expect those to be Morrison’s. One common one is that published by Modern Library, a newer one that I have a copy of is that published by Vision Forum. Avoid the Lakeside Press edition, it is just selections rather than the complete book.

My favorite edition is not readily available in print. It is the one from a century ago edited by Worthington Ford that has a vast amount of notes, maps and illustrations. I’ve just purchased print-on-demand leather-bound versions of these, but they aren’t cheap. You can find them on rarebiblio.com (vol. 1, and vol. 2).

Hope this helps!