Editors: Robert Appelbaum, John Wood Sweet

This is not a Valentines Day post. 

What were the English thinking when they commenced exploration and colonization of the New World, @ 1575-1630?

The 12 well-referenced essays in this book present a fresh perspective on many issues. Some issues are resolved. For instance, reports from the early Jamestown settlement (1608) complained of hunger and starvation. English and Native American ideas of eating differed. The English were becoming civilized – meals at set times during the day. The Native Virginians ate what nature served. When food was plentiful, they feasted and gorged; when food was scarce they went hungry but didn’t complain. Englishmen did not like the hunger spells endured by the native Virginians. The English figured they were starving; many got sick and died.

There are essays on landholding and titles; investigations into specific sources which mislead students today; a description of John Smith’s 1612 map of Virginia as thought it were a literary production; English relations with the Turks and Moroccans; Grace O’Malley, Irish female entrepreneur and pirate, and her meeting with Elizabeth; and many references to Elizabethan and Jacobian literature, drama and poetry…when they refer to issues involving colonization – political, sociological and economic. 

This book is heavy lumber. The essays are well-written and packed. I could not read it fast; I could not read much of it during a day. But the challenge of reading was enjoyable. I can read law, (land titles) which I went through quickest – I don’t need to know much more of that stuff. But there are many essays to stir the imagination in a subject matter foreign to many readers.


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