The Jamestown Project

The Jamestown Project

Listen to a short interview with Karen Ordahl Kupperman
Host: Chris Gondek | Producer: Heron & Crane

Captain John Smith's 1607 voyage to Jamestown was not his first trip abroad. He had traveled throughout Europe, been sold as a war captive in Turkey, escaped, and returned to England in time to join the Virginia Company's colonizing project. In Jamestown migrants, merchants, and soldiers who had also sailed to the distant shores of the Ottoman Empire, Africa, and Ireland in search of new beginnings encountered Indians who already possessed broad understanding of Europeans. Experience of foreign environments and cultures had sharpened survival instincts on all sides and aroused challenging questions about human nature and its potential for transformation.

It is against this enlarged temporal and geographic background that Jamestown dramatically emerges in Karen Kupperman's breathtaking study. Reconfiguring the national myth of Jamestown's failure, she shows how the settlement's distinctly messy first decade actually represents a period of ferment in which individuals were learning how to make a colony work. Despite the settlers' dependence on the Chesapeake Algonquians and strained relations with their London backers, they forged a tenacious colony that survived where others had failed. Indeed, the structures and practices that evolved through trial and error in Virginia would become the model for all successful English colonies, including Plymouth.

Capturing England's intoxication with a wider world through ballads, plays, and paintings, and the stark reality of Jamestown--for Indians and Europeans alike--through the words of its inhabitants as well as archeological and environmental evidence, Kupperman re-creates these formative years with astonishing detail.

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Title:The Jamestown Project
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  • This book looks at the Jamestown settlement as it relates to what was happening in the world. If you are at all interested in world or American history, I recommend this to you. It is not a dry read t...

  • This was great. It is not really a history of the Jamestown settlement- rather, it is the history of the world as the English and Indians saw it at the start of the 1600s...the world in which the Jame...

  • In the beginning, the author introduces Adam and Eve and how they came to colonize Virginia. Yes, that is an exaggeration but also a good example of how Kupperman brings in wildly diverse information ...

  • Good background on the global landscape that influenced the various actors in the Jamestown Project. As some reviews have noted, I also expected this would be mostly about the happenings in Jamestown....

  • The Jamestown Project feels like two loosely connected essays melded into one book. The deep background about matters such as European colonization ventures and Europeans who had "taken the turban" - ...

  • Kupperman is certainly one of the greatest Colonial American researchers, and this book is quite good. The drawback for me is though the book is supposedly about Jamestown, it's mostly not. Kupperman'...

  • Just starting this nonfiction, and is it ever thorough. Extremely well researched, broadly represented, and finely organized from the Europeans and the new Americans. I have learned several historical...

  • This is quite a book, putting Jamestown into perspective. It looks at what the English were trying to do and why, and what the Natives were looking for, as well as what the colonists were striving to ...

  • If you're looking for a chronological history of what happened at Jamestown in the early settlement years, this isn't the book for you. Much of it is not directly about Jamestown at all. Instead, "The...

  • She really takes the long view in this book - providing a lot of historical background prior to the actual settlement of Jamestown, which really doesn't start until at least half way through the book....

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