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The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James
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The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  73 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
From the establishment of the first permanent English colony at Jamestown in 1607 to the fall of Richmond in 1865, the James River has been instrumental in the formation of modern America. It was along the James that British and Native American cultures collided and, in a twisted paradox, the seeds of democracy and slavery were sown side by side. The culture crafted by Vir ...more
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published February 23rd 2007 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (first published January 1st 2007)
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Aug 01, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Just over a hundred years ago, a scrappy band of Englishmen sailed across the Atlantic under a charter from the Virgina Company of London. They found a river, which they promptly named for their king, James I - the James River. They went up the river a ways and founded Jamestown, the first English settlement in North America, with a very simple mission - find gold and silver, and find a passage to the Pacific Ocean.

They accomplished none of that.

What they did manage was to give European coloniza
Nov 02, 2016 Alison rated it liked it
I just moved to a town along the James River, so I picked this up to read some history about the area. While I agree with some of the other reviews stating the beginning was a bit slow and verbose, the rest of the book was incredibly interesting and informative. I loved that Deans didn't give a year-by-year account but rather major event-by-major event.

This was not a typical history book, which was refreshing to read, but it still enlightened me into many moments in history I had little knowled
Deans focuses on three pivotal events/periods of American history that have a connection to the James River. Sometimes the connection is a bit thin, but it is an enjoyable read never-the-less. The events are the Jamestown settlement, the development of the political thinking that lead the Virginia contingent to advocate separation from England and the capture of Richmond by Union forces at the end of the Civil War. While he does manage in most cases to show how the nature of the James as a navig ...more
Aug 21, 2016 Joe rated it liked it
So this book gets three stars because only about 2/3 of it was good. This book is DESPERATELY in need of a good editor; the author goes on and on and on and on in the most flowery, over-wrought and digressive language about the simplest things, especially in the beginning and end of the book. And I have never seen someone try to create more out of less. This could have just been a good history of the James River and clearly lay out its connection to other things in American history, but the auth ...more
Jul 12, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
Not just a regional history. From the 1607 colony at Jameston the the end of the civil war, Mr Deans tells an American story. The evolution of American values of freedom and equality and struggles to fulfill their promise are reflected in the history of the James River area. Great story telling with fascinating characters. John Smith, Pocahantos, Thomas Jefferson and more. When you've finished this wonderful narrative take a few more minutes to read the epilogue. It will make you reflect on Amer ...more
Sep 21, 2007 Deanna rated it it was amazing
I read this since we're celebrating the 400 year anniversary of the founding of Jamestown (very big in the Hampton Roads area). It mainly deals with people and events around the James river and how it has shaped America. Starts from when a meteor fell to earth to create the Chesapeake Bay (news to me) and ends with the Civil War. The author does a really nice job tying all the side stories back to the James river. A good read for this historic year.
Jul 14, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it
This history of America focuses on the James River in Virginia. It covers the founding of Jamestown and associated plantations, the Revolutionary War era, and the Civil War. The author focuses on what was happening in the greater James River area (also known as the Virginia Tidewater) to illustrate the events happening throughout the country. An interesting read as either American history or Virginia history.
Jul 13, 2007 bennett rated it really liked it
pretty sweet history of Virginia as told through the history of the James River. Must read for all you Virginia history buffs out there...
Apr 28, 2016 Robert rated it it was ok
Shelves: virginia-history
Hits a few high points of Virginian history with a touch of added detail, but Deans overall direction and conclusion of the book is less than desired.
Chris Jewett
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Mar 16, 2010
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Mar 25, 2007
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Jim Pedderson
Jim Pedderson rated it really liked it
Feb 24, 2010
May 11, 2016 Rosemary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: virginia
Wonderful, wonderful book. History of this country along this one river.
Jason Ferrara
Jason Ferrara rated it it was amazing
Jul 08, 2015
Jim Alcott
Jim Alcott rated it really liked it
Feb 14, 2016
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“Virtually unable to attract new capital to the foundering enterprise, the company seized the next year on a novel approach to raising money to fund the embryonic British Empire: a lottery.
With the reluctant approval of King James and the Church of England, the Virginia Company sold lottery tickets to the public, discovering no shortage of gamers willing to hazard hard coinage for the chance to win the 01,000 grand prize, a fortune at a time when the typical working-class family scraped by on little more than a pound a month. Having begun as a corporation, Virginia had evolved into a gamblers' stake with a lively populist following back in England.”
“Hakluyt built an equally compelling case for New World economic promise. In an era
when idleness was regarded as a sin and often a crime, Hakluyt described England as a land where unemployment was so high that "multitudes of loiterers and idle vagabonds" bent their effort to "pilfering and thieving and other lewdness" with such devotion that "all the prisons of the land are daily pestered and stuffed full of them." In America, Hakluyt reasoned, "these petty thieves" could be put to work enriching the kingdom”
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