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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

7 Ratings: 2.4
A book by James Horn

Starred Review. A leading historian of early Virginia, Horn (A Land as God Made It) relates the convoluted, fascinating story of the failed 1598 venture on Roanoke Island: a British settlement whose 100 men, women, and children disappeared without a … see full wiki

Author: James Horn
Genre: History
Publisher: Basic Books
1 review about A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic...

An Interesting History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

  • Apr 25, 2010
Rating:
+3

This short but informative history of not only a lost, but mostly forgotten, early American colony is certainly a worthwhile read.  In 1587 John White lead 118 men, women, and some children to the America’s with the goal of establishing a colony on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay (on the Virginia side).  Under the sponsorship of Sir Walter Ralegh, who at the time hoped to find riches in the interior of the Americas and a water passage to the Pacific Ocean, they set sail for what was then mostly an unknown. 

They landed on Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina.  A previous exploratory voyage had already set up a beachhead there and made contact with the local Indians. Unfortunately for the colonist, the Capitan of the ship who brought them never moved them to their intended destination, setting sail as a privateer to attack Spanish ships full of goods from the South Americas and Caribbean.  With hostile Indians and dwindling supplies John White set sail back to England with the intent to return as soon as possible.

When he arrived in London the political situation was much different and there was less interest in the Americas.  It took him three years to return and when he arrived the colony was gone.  No direct contact was ever made with any member of the colony again.

Years later with the arrival of more British colonies on the shores of America, Captain John Smith made some forays to find out what happened to the colonists.  The rumor was the colony was attacked by hostile Indians but that many may have survived and lived with friendly Native Americans, building a life and fathering children.  Some even ran into to local Indians in the area decades later who claimed to be the ancestors of these lost colonists.

This is certainly an informative read and I learned a bit about Sir Walter Ralegh and the earliest of American exploration.  The book does a good job of giving the context of the political situation in England at the time, as well as the robust Spanish empire in the Caribbean and South America.  There is some information about local Indians as well, but not in quite as much detail.  While there is good context to the situation of the colonists, it would have been interesting to learn a bit more about the local Indians and their history, to the extent known, to provide even better context to situation.

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