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Captain John Smith: Writings with Other Narratives of Roanoke, Jamestown, and the First English Settlement of America Hardcover – March 22, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1344 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; 1st edition (March 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598530011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598530018
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

One of the truly legendary figures of American history, the soldier, explorer, and colonist Captain John Smith was a vivid and prolific chronicler of the beginnings of English settlement in the New World. This volume brings together seven of his works, along with 16 additional narratives by 13 other writers, that recount firsthand the tragic, harrowing, and dramatic events of the settlement of Roanoke and Jamestown. Written in a consistently lively style, Smith's works are filled with suspense, astonishment, and keen observations of American Indian cultures and New World landscapes. Together with the other narratives, they capture the fear and fascination of early encounters with the Indians and the brutality, desperation, and ingenuity of settlers facing extreme hardship. Included in the volume are 29 plates of contemporary drawings, 15 in full color.

About the Author

James Horn, editor, is O'Neill Director of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and lecturer at the College of William & Mary. His works include Adapting to a New World: English Society in the Seventeenth Century Chesapeake and A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Captain John Smith did an amazing amount of living in the fifty-one years he lived on Earth. His life's journey began in 1580 at Willoughy, England. He left home at 16 after his father's death to become a soldier fighting in France for Dutch Independence from Spain. In other words, he was a mercenary. He went to work in the Mediterranean Sea on a merchant ship in 1598. In 1600 he went to the Austrians to fight in Hungary against the Turks and fought so valiantly that he was promoted to Captain. Fighting in Transylvania in 1602, he was wounded, captured, and sold as a slave to a Turk. He was then given to a girl who sent him to her brother to get training for Imperial service. Being very ill treated by this Pasha, Smith killed him and escaped. He fled through Russia and then Poland, was released from service, received a large reward and spent time traveling throughout Europe. During the winter of 1604-05 he returned to England. All this before the events we know him for began in Virginia and New England!

His restless nature somehow got him involved with the plans to colonize the Virginia territory for profit. King James I granted the charter and the expedition set sail on December 20, 1606. While this is more than a century after Columbus, it was still a huge and costly undertaking to what was almost unknown territory. The three tiny ships were the Discovery (20 tons), Susan Constant (120 tons), and Godspeed (40 tons). They did not land in Virginia until April 1607 after a voyage of more than four months. Smith was on the list of seven council members that was designated to govern the colony. The winter was harsh, fresh water was hard to come by, sickness ravaged the colonists, and the local Indians, ruled by Powhatan (Wahunsonacock), were antagonistic to the newcomers.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on January 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Reviewer Craig Matteson has written a fantastic review of this thick old book that will make it shine as it should. I wasn't quite as entranced as Matteson, but it's plain that he's a history buff and I just picked up the book trying to learn a bit more about John Smith after watching the movie about him, THE NEW WORLD. which came out last year. The Library of America always picks up on trends wherever they can find them, small signs that the public is still interested in literature. Thus they have the complete Elizabeth Bishop coming out, and even a book of ecological material that Al Gore wrote a preface for! Here the editor, James Horne, works overtime trying to bring cohesion into a group of Smith's writings that sometimes contradict each other. We get a sense of 17th century writing as being highly contingent, its practictioners unmotivated by Greek notions of truth, just trying to get their own out and to make themselves look admirable. Horne hit on the idea of adding material by many, many other men of the period, people commenting on Smith's vanity and delusions, and sometimes this approach works, giving us an extra dimension by broadcasting opposite points of view, the way a democracy is supposed to work.

Sometimes it doesn't and it just makes a tedious book even dryer and more confusing. I found plenty of meat in Smith's description of the last days of Lady Rebecca, the girl he had once known as Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas. In the movie it seems that she was told Smith had died, and then that gave her the space she needed emotionally to go and marry Christian Bale. Here you don't get all that melodrama. Basically Pocahontas becomes more cryptic than ever before.
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By Zoe on August 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I am disappointed with the shipping, I do like this book. It's a completely new book,there are no notes and highlighting in the book.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. on July 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
gave one of these to friends at Jamestown and they love it - old style writing and english but full of goodies. A good history primer for Williamsburg area visitors and residents.
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