Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America
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Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  183 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Four centuries ago, and thirteen years before the Mayflower, a group of men—led by a one-armed ex-pirate, an epileptic aristocrat, a reprobate cleric, and a government spy—arrived in Virginia aboard a fleet of three ships and set about trying to create a settlement on a tiny island in the James River. Despite their shortcomings, and against the odds, they built Jamestown,...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published April 10th 2007)
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Emily
The last, the very last, of the Jamestown books I'm reading...

Well, this was a good one to end on. After an odd prologue set in 1907, the 300th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, the book steps back to 1565 and the early Huguenot attempt to colonize Florida - a direct challenge to Catholic Spain. This book excelled at providing rich context for the Jamestown settlement and the decisions made by those in authority over it. Mr. Woolley wades through an enormous scope of cultural, religious,...more
Jason
With the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first colonists and founding of the first permanent British settlement in present day America, there have been a slew of books and reexaminations of the settlement. Wooley, a popular writer and broadcaster in Great Britain has contributed to this review of the Jamestown by presenting a popular history from the British viewpoint, that examines the founding of Jamestown from the perspective that tries to place Jamestown in the perspective of the new...more
Kathleen Hagen
Savage Kingdom: Virginia and the Story of English America, by Benjamin Woolley, Narrated by David Drummond,Produced by Tantor Media, Downloaded from audible.com.

This book was published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 2007. The publisher’s note describes this book as well as I can so I include it here.
Published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first American colony, Savage Kingdom presents a bold, even reckless, political adventure dri...more
Steve
This is a serious (though not academic and boring) history book about England's first colony in America. I deem it to be halfway between a popular history book (such as those by Giles Milton) and an academic book). It tells the story in quite a lot of detail and refers to sources used from time to time (a bibliography and notes section is at the back).[return][return]The story of the Jamestown colony is a fascinating one to me, all the more so because it is the beginning of modern America. This...more
Tom
I'm sorry. No. Really. I truly am. Woolley seems a fine historian and his research seems excellent, but....It may be the narrow nature of the topic, but not only is this effort not for the amateur historian, but I fear even most experienced and jaded "professional" historians will be...well, bored. The ""The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,But in ourselves" so I may just be too shallow for something this detailed. Still, I can't recommend it. To anyone.
Paul
An excellent overview of not only the privations and struggles of the Jamestown settlement, but the machinations in the wider world that had a direct bearing on its viability. I was surprised at the level of intrigue both within the company on the ground, and within the leadership in London. The frequency that members of the initial group are imprisoned, or threatened with execution (including Captain John Smith)was eye opening.

It was also amazing to find the ambivalence that the venture espous...more
Karen
I read this book right after The Jamestown Project and liked it equally. In fact, I would highly recommend reading them together as this one focuses on the history and story of the colony with touches on the world picture. If you do read them together, I would recommend this one first.

I would also like to add that this reminds me of just how open to interpretation even the most well documented histories are. Some of the main characters in this book were only footnote characters in the other and...more
Zoe
Every American should read this book. I found it when my fourth grader was studying Jamestown and I suddenly asked myself "What happened after they got off the boat?" "Why do we think of Plymouth as the first Pilgrims when Jamestown was started so much earlier?"
After you wade throuhg the first 80 pages of the founding of the Virginia company and the politics between Spain and England, the (harrowing) tale begins, and it's nothing like Disney's 'Pocahontas'. These people were inept, unprepared,...more
Paul
I had no strong feelings about this book. Didn't really engage me and I don't think I learned a lot, but it wasn't exactly poorly written, infuriating or particularly boring. I was hoping for more, but I was disappointed.
Caroline
I really wanted to like this book ... but honestly, although I'm fascinated by the story of the Jamestown settlement, this book bored me to tears. It felt like someone's PhD thesis that just got printed in book form. There's lots of dates and facts, but honestly, I got nothing of the what must have been over-the-top personalities that settled the new world. Read a much better book on a similar topic a few years back: "A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspi...more
Terry Earley
This lived up to its reviews. I not only learned things about the founding of America, but also of the establishment of slavery through the start of the tobacco industry, and the relationship between the Jamestown settlement and the Pilgrims at Plymouth, the bumbling Captain John Smith, and the tragic princess, Pocahontas who suffered under both cultures.

Woolley writing is readable and helps his readers keep a very complex story straight. I liked it.
Tomerobber
This is an audiobook on 11CD's that ran over 14 hrs. And was narrated by David Drummond who did an excellent job with the pronunciation of all the Indian names. I was interested in this topic because I wanted to know more about the Jamestown colony. It was very interesting and filled a gap in my knowledge of that era. The author did a great job of making history much more interesting than anything I ever remember from grammar school. A great listen!!
Jay Perkins
A very good and detailed narrative on the Jamestown story. The author also does a great job explaining the political climate in England at the time, which is important in fully understanding why Jamestown suffered from so much division. There is not a lot of historical analysis provided, but the author does a great job of portraying events from the viewpoint of the Indian and the Englishman.
Meghan Helzlsouer
Riveting account of the settlement of Jamestown. I read it because I had been frequently watching the Disney movie "Pocahontas" with my two-year-old daughter and wanted to know exactly how much of the movie was not factual. It turns out, a lot! Extremely interesting book; well researched and well presented. Particularly liked the portions about Pocahontas and John Smith, naturally.
Joanna
I really like/love this book. It's definitely a history book, but it's so well written that it reads more like a novel and it's totally fascinating. It puts everything in context on the American and the British side so the history doesn't seem so disjointed. And, although I'm sure it does have a bias, it doesn't feel overly opinionated.
Chris
We listened to the audiobook of Savage Kingdom and found it a compelling story. Certain repetitive elements made for occasionally hilarious scenes (it seemed every time John Smith left the Jamestown settlement, he returned to find it in chaos), but overall a wonderfully telling story of the first English colony.
Kenneth Davison
One of my favorite historical writers. This book is very well researched. The brutal truth of the passages can make a body a tad queasy at times, but definitely gives one a fantastic warts-and-all picture of all the historical figures we tend to reverence without knowing anything about them.
Laura
Not a bad book, but not exactly what I was looking for. There was more emphasis on the politics and economics of the Virginia Company leaders back in England than in the actual settlement in America. I liked the beginning of the book, but by the middle it got too tedious.
Julia Gallagher
I had a hard time staying engrossed (I listened on audio book). Normally I do pretty well with non-fiction in this format, so I don't know if it was the subject matter or just this particular book.
Caroline
Lots of good information, though I wish it were more analytical and less a digestion/recap of primary sources. Dragged a bit toward the end (except when there was a massacre. Sorry, but true.)
William
"Savage" is the word that best expresses the story of Jamestown and this early settlement -- and this book does not reflect the sanitized version taught in High School history class.
Jessi Bishop-Royse
Rambly in places. I was more interested in what was going on in the colony and less interested in English politics of the early 1600s. But definitely worthwhile and informative.
Erin
This dragged for me in some places, but I still learned a lot. I may look into reading some of his other medicine-related books at some point in the future.
Melissa
I read this while my children read "Blood on the River," our tribute to the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. Not a Disney song in sight ...
Jack Walsh
Close view of the ugly early colonization of Virginia by the english. Makes you wonder how they ever managed anything successfully.
Susan
A very well written look at the colony at Jamestown and the politics behind it's creation and periods of failure and success.
Pabloslist
1607 Jamestown: Reckless enterprise led by outcasts of Old World who found themselves interlopers in a new one
Jeff Minar
I learned much I did not know about early English settlement in Virginia. It is very well done too.
Marion
Elegant writing and a fun read. Some publishing errors like mislabeled and misplaced maps.
Kristen Gurri
Very helpful.
Significant information on renegades and relations with native americans.
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