The Jamestown Experiment is the untold story of the unlikely and dramatic events that defined the "self-made man" and gave birth to the American dream.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-03-07
- Reviewer: Staff
Williams fills his absorbing new effort (The Pox and the Covenant) with outrageously colorful characters, including arrogant politicos, mutinous citizens, treacherous Indians, their equally cruel white counterparts, and "gentleman adventurers" aplenty. After the journey of "107 brave souls…across 3,000 miles of ocean into a virtually unknown land...the tottering colony faced very grim prospects in the race against death." Atrocities were rampant: emissaries to the Indians were "killed and their mouths ‘stopped full of bread' as a sign of what would happen to any Englishmen who sought food from the Indians," and after one battle an English leader ordered a soldier beheaded for sparing Indians, including children. "They decided to toss the children overboard and shoot them." Williams chronicles dreadful voyages, shipwrecks (including one that stranded a group in Bermuda for a year), unremitting privation, interminable skirmishes among Indians and settlers, a flamboyant public relations ploy to attract more English investment, and more. Miraculously, settlers survived this disastrous period (1607 to 1619), evolving to enjoy a thriving tobacco trade. "The American dream was built along the banks of the James River," says Williams, but before the dream came the nightmare. (Feb.)