Savage Kingdom by Benjamin Woolley
The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America

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Synopsis

Four centuries ago, and fourteen years before the Mayflower, a group of men—led by a one-armed ex-pirate, an epileptic aristocrat, a reprobate cleric and a government spy—left London aboard a fleet of three ships to start a new life in America. They arrived in Virginia in the spring of 1607 and set about trying to create a settlement on a tiny island in the James River. Despite their shortcomings, and against the odds, they built Jamestown, a ramshackle outpost that laid the foundations of the British Empire and the United States of America.

Drawing on new discoveries, neglected sources and manuscript collections scattered across the world, Savage Kingdom challenges the textbook image of Jamestown as a mere money-making venture. It reveals a reckless, daring enterprise led by outcasts of the Old World who found themselves interlopers in a new one. It charts their journey into a beautiful landscape and a sophisticated culture that they found both ravishing and alien, which they yearned to possess but threatened to destroy. They called their new home a "savage kingdom," but it was the savagery they had experienced in Europe that had driven them across the ocean and which they hoped to escape by building in America "one of the most glorious nations under the sun."

An intimate story in an epic setting, Woolley shows how the land of Pocahontas came to be drawn into a new global order, reaching from London to the Orinoco Delta, from the warring kingdoms of Angola to the slave markets of Mexico, from the gates of the Ottoman Empire to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

About Benjamin Woolley

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Benjamin Woolley is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. He is the author of the best-selling The Queen's Conjuror: The Life and Magic of Dr. John Dee and Heal Thyself: Nicholas Culpeper and the Civil War for the Heart of Medicine in Seventeenth-Century England. His first book, Virtual Worlds, was short-listed for the RhÔne-Poulenc Prize and has been translated into eight languages. His second work, The Bride of Science, examined the life of Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's daughter. He has written and presented documentaries for the BBC on subjects ranging from the fight for liberty during the English Civil War to the end of the Space Age. He has won the Arts Journalist of the Year Award and an Emmy for his commentary for Discovery's Three Minutes to Impact. He lives in London.
 
Published April 10, 2007 by HarperCol. 469 pages
Genres: History, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Comprehensive account of the first permanent English colony in North America.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Savage Kingdom: The True Stor...

The Guardian

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Hakluyt's Promise: An Elizabethan Obsession for an English America by Peter C Mancall 378pp, Yale, £25 Savage Kingdom: Virginia and the Founding of English America by Benjamin Woolley 467pp, Harper Press, £25 Anniversaries usually provide a context for the rediscovery of half-forgotten historica...

Mar 10 2007 | Read Full Review of Savage Kingdom: The True Stor...

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