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1607: A New Look at Jamestown Hardcover – February 13, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 3–6—In 1994, scientists unearthed important new evidence about the original Jamestown fort. The work is ongoing and has changed many established ideas about the early settlers. 1607 incorporates these findings and offers a fascinating look at archaeology in action. Color photographs of costumed interpreters and re-created buildings from the Jamestown Settlement living-history museum depict both English and Native American ways of life. Varying perspectives of the period are represented, including evidence that suggests that Native women married English settlers and lived at the fort; how the arrival of English women changed the dynamics of the settlement; and the importance of indentured servants versus the relatively small presence of African slaves. Attractive, engaging, and informative, this title should be in every collection.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Just in time for the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, this well-illustrated volume presents information based on recent archaeology at the site of the original fort. Lange clearly describes conditions in early Jamestown and tells how the recent excavations and other research have shifted historians' perceptions of the colony. She also discusses the Indians who lived in the area before the English settlement began and shows how their views of the settlers changed over the years. The excellent color photos feature interpreters dressed as colonists and Indians in reconstructions of their communities as well as artifacts found at the site of the fort. In conclusion, Lange tackles some controversy, noting "the story of Jamestown is not a comforting one: Indians see nothing to celebrate in the 400th year commemoration." Jamestown has long been overshadowed by Plymouth in America's mythology, but this forthright narrative is a very good place to start learning its significant story. A chronology, source notes, and lists of books and Web sites are appended. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
To my great surprise "1607: A New Look at Jamestown" is very honest about what took place in the early years of the settlement. This honest treatment of the story in a book addressed to young children is refreshing. In that sense this book is "revisionist". A clear eyed view of American history is not for every parent or child. If you are looking for a more upbeat take on early Colonial history, I would suggest Catherine O'Neill Grace's "Mayflower 1620" or "1621 a New Look at Thanksgiving". Fortunately, my nine year old son is mature enough to understand that American history can have both its good and bad sides. This a beautifully photographed and well written book and I recommend it for anyone who can hold an expansive view of American history.
The book is filled with photographs of the Jamestown sites, as well as photographs of historical re-enactors in period costumes.
Parents take note: my son was rolling right through this book and enjoying it immensely when he got to this information, on page 23: "One such interpreter was 13-year-old Henry Spelman. Spelman wrote that he left England 'being in displeasure of my friends, and desirous to see other countries,' He went to Jamestown as a laborer but was traded to one of Chief Powhatan's sons for a piece of land. He arrived among the Indians when the friendship between the English and Powhatan was breaking down. After he watched the Indians skin a captured English officer alive with a razor-sharp clam shell, Spelman ran away."
All I heard my son say was, "Whoa." I don't think he was expecting that. There was nothing in the earlier part of the book to indicate there would be a description of an execution 1/3 of the way through the book.
I read the whole book for myself after he pointed that out to me. You know, it's not a BAD book, but I don't like the tone of how corrupt America is, and it can all be traced back to Jamestown. I also raised my eyebrows at the author's point that the BEST thing about Jamestown colony was that the gentlemen were laboring just like everybody else. Really? That's the BEST thing? On the one hand, it's such a "no kidding" statement, and on the other, it certainly downplays the rest of the good that came from the colony.
Anyway, good chronology, good index, good notes on sources.
It's not a rah-rah cheerleading book for young people, if that's what you're after... but it's a good book for a person interested in the discoveries and science at Jamestown.
Personally, I prefer "Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland" by Sally M. Walker. Much more information, more science, and more that interests us. For less science, but more all-around appeal, try "James Towne: Struggle for Survival" by Marcia Sewall.
In recent years, finding text resources about Jamestown that present a true picture of colonization, warts and all, has been hard to find. This situation has changed with the publication of Karen Lange's book, 1607: A New Look at Jamestown. Lange, a journalist and writer with National Geographic Magazine, presents a brief history of the settling of Jamestown using new archaeological evidence to tell the story.
The Foreword begins in this fashion:
Many people feel that to discover the past, all you have to do is find a book, open the pages, and read a single story. That couldn't be farther from the truth. History is not static: It is not a single story. Simple discovery may only yield you one layer. To really begin to understand the multi-faceted stories that make up our past, you must dig beyond what we think we know. You must discover and then re-discover.
This volume takes these words to heart as it reveals the recent discoveries at the Jamestown archaeological site. Supported by an extensive bibliography of primary sources, Lange presents the grim reality that was the founding of this American colony. The narrative describes the settlers' struggles through the artifacts left behind. Color photographs of the dig site, found treasures, and historical reenactment scenes give readers a glimpse of what life was like for those who lived inside the Jamestown fort.
Lange does an especially good job of describing how native peoples were living when the settlers arrived, and how their arrival forever changed their way of life. Lange even highlights the response of the Paspahegh (Powhatan) descendants to the planned celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, noting:
"For the Indians, Jamestown is nothing to celebrate. To them, it meant the end of their ancestors' way of life."
I was completely enthralled by this book and found myself engaged by the remarkable, yet difficult history presented. Believe me, this is not the standard fare served up in history textbooks. Don't miss this amazing book on a bit of American history you only think you know. I highly recommend it.