The Jamestown Project

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2009 - History - 390 pages
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Captain John Smith's 1607 voyage to Jamestown was not his first trip abroad. He had traveled throughout Europe, been sold as a war captive in Turkey, escaped, and returned to England in time to join the Virginia Company's colonizing project. In Jamestown migrants, merchants, and soldiers who had also sailed to the distant shores of the Ottoman Empire, Africa, and Ireland in search of new beginnings encountered Indians who already possessed broad understanding of Europeans. Experience of foreign environments and cultures had sharpened survival instincts on all sides and aroused challenging questions about human nature and its potential for transformation.

It is against this enlarged temporal and geographic background that Jamestown dramatically emerges in Karen Kupperman's breathtaking study. Reconfiguring the national myth of Jamestown's failure, she shows how the settlement's distinctly messy first decade actually represents a period of ferment in which individuals were learning how to make a colony work. Despite the settlers' dependence on the Chesapeake Algonquians and strained relations with their London backers, they forged a tenacious colony that survived where others had failed. Indeed, the structures and practices that evolved through trial and error in Virginia would become the model for all successful English colonies, including Plymouth.

Capturing England's intoxication with a wider world through ballads, plays, and paintings, and the stark reality of Jamestown--for Indians and Europeans alike--through the words of its inhabitants as well as archeological and environmental evidence, Kupperman re-creates these formative years with astonishing detail.


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User Review  - dmarsh451 - LibraryThing

This is more about the broth that flavoured it rather than the actual dumpling. And what an interesting broth it was. I like the way she put this together. Clear writing. This took me ages to read because I didn't want to be finished. Read full review

The Jamestown project / Karen Ordahl Kupperman

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Generations of American schoolchildren have learned that Jamestown was the English seed from which the United States sprang. But little focus has usually fallen on how iffy a thing were both its ... Read full review


Creation Myths
1 Elizabethan England Engages the World
2 Adventurers Opportunities and Improvisation
3 Indian Experience of the Atlantic
4 English Hunger for the New
5 Grasping Americas Contours
6 A Welter of Colonial Projects
7 Jamestowns Uncertain Beginnings
8 The Project Revised
9 James Cittie in Virginia

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About the author (2009)

Karen Ordahl Kupperman is Silver Professor of History at New York University.

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