A New World: England's First View of America/1607: Jamestown and the New World/The River Where America Began: A Journey along the James/Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America/The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History/Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World/A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia: The 1590 Theodor De Bry Latin Edition, in Facsimile Form, Accompanied by the Modernized English Text

By Fausz, J. Frederick | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, October 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

A New World: England's First View of America/1607: Jamestown and the New World/The River Where America Began: A Journey along the James/Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America/The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History/Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World/A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia: The 1590 Theodor De Bry Latin Edition, in Facsimile Form, Accompanied by the Modernized English Text


Fausz, J. Frederick, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


A New World: England's First View of America * Kim Sloan * Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007 * 256 pp. * $60.00 cloth; $29.95 paper

1607: Jamestown and the New World * Compiled by Dennis Montgomery * Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007 * x, 214 pp. * $34.95 cloth; $19.95 paper

The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James * Bob Deans * Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007 * xvi, 300 pp. * $24.95

Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America * Benjamin Woolley * New York: HarperCollins, 2007 * xx, 470 pp. * $27.50

The True Story ofPocahontai: The Other Side of History * Linwood "Little Bear" Custalow and Angela L. Daniel "Silver Star" * Golden, CoL: Fulcrum Publishing, 2007 * xxvi, 138 pp. * $14.95

Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World* Kieran Doherty * New York: St. Martins Press, 2007 * 288 pp. * $24.95

A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia: The 1590 Theodor de Bry Latin Edition, in Facsimile Form, Accompanied by the Modernized English Text * Thomas Hariot * Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007 * xviii, 190 pp. * $200.00 cloth; $35.00 paper

The Jamestown Quadricentennial has ended, with memories of corporate flash and legislative fury, royal visits and presidential theatrics, and the realization that even astonishing archaeological discoveries may not reverse our society's increasing ignorance of history. In this Harry Potter era, the profitability of books that entertain far outweighs the quality of books that educate, based on the self-fulfilling prophecy of a supply-driven publishing industry determined to demonstrate that there is little public demand for serious scholarship. That mass-market mentality reaches its peak during major anniversaries, when the intellectual impact of books by academic experts is compromised by the commercial appeal of books by journalists. Beguiling dust jackets trumpeting a book's exaggerated significance now often disguise the deception of erroneous titles by adding "True Story."

The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James, by journalist Bob Deans, is an emotional homage to national pride and is overly optimistic about "our common purpose" that "will guide this audacious dream [of multiracial harmony] for the next four hundred years" (p. 287). This screed is not a serious or useful history of Jamestown, rarely surpassing a basic (and flawed) textbook knowledge. Like all too many anniversary authors, Deans confuses the meaning of both "America" and "Began." He tries, unsuccessfully, to connect disparate events that occurred along the famous river down to 1865, and his disjointed editorializing results in many errors of commission and omission. The journalistic celebrities (and one Pulitzer Prize-winning historian) who praised this book should be ashamed, because Deans's glib slang cannot be excused: "Whether genuinely deceived or just fed up with the blue suede shoes and slap-on-the-back routine, Powhatan took the bait. . . . Newport and Smith returned to Jamestown with . . . grain and beans, the original Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid act, a couple of corn-fed con men running a seventeenth-century scam on the Big Guy . . . yucking it up all the way to the food bank" (p. 78).

Kieran Doherty does not make a mockery of Jamestown, but his credibility suffers because of the breathless-and inaccurate-title of his book, Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World. Capitalizing on recent best-selling ship and sea yarns, he contends that the Sea Venture (which had sunk already off Bermuda) "saved" Jamestown (which was not the "first English colony"). In fact, two other ships reached Virginia with the Sea Venture survivors, and they facilitated the abandonment of Jamestown on 7 June 1610. …

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A New World: England's First View of America/1607: Jamestown and the New World/The River Where America Began: A Journey along the James/Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America/The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History/Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World/A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia: The 1590 Theodor De Bry Latin Edition, in Facsimile Form, Accompanied by the Modernized English Text
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