The Best and Worst Country in the World: Perspectives on the Early Virginia Landscape

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University of Virginia Press, 2001 - History - 305 pages
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From its earliest days, the Virginia landscape has elicited dramatically contradictory descriptions. The sixteenth-century poet Michael Drayton exalted the land as "earth's onely paradise," while John Smith, in his reports to England, summarized the area around Jamestown as "a miserie, a ruine, a death, a hell."

Drawing upon both familiar history and lesser-known material from deep geological time through the end of the seventeenth century, Stephen Adams focuses on both the physical changes to the land over time and the changes in the way people viewed Virginia. The Best and Worst Country in the World reaches well beyond previous accounts of early American views of the land with the inclusion of fascinating and important pre-1700 sources, Native American perceptions, and prehuman geography and geology.

A blend of history, literature, geology, geography, and natural history, enriched by illustrations ranging from a dinosaur footprint to John Smith's famous "Map of Virginia," Adams's work offers an ecocritical exploration of the varied preconceptions that have shaped and colored the human relationship with "the best and worst country in the world"--the early Virginia landscape.

  

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Contents

Introduction
1
A Brief Geological History
13
TWO Virginia Indians and the Land
27
THREE The Spanish in Virginia
58
SEVEN Perspectives from the Royal Colony 1625 to 1700
177
EIGHT Tobacco Look of the Land Explorations West
211
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About the author (2001)

Stephen Adams is Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and the coauthor of Revising Mythologies: The Composition of Thoreau's Major Works (Virginia).

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