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The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America
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The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  119 ratings  ·  26 reviews
“A rip-snortin’ story of shipwreck, intrigue, horror, courage, risk, luck and will . . . gripping.”—Publishers Weekly

The English were latecomers to America, and their initial attempts to establish an overseas empire met with dismal failure. In 1609, another disaster set the final course of this dramatic history, when the Sea Venture, the ship dispatched by London investors
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 2008)
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So after reading the really crappy book about Jamestown, where I learned that communism causes dysentery.

This book purports to argue that the shipwreck of the Sea Venture saved Jamestown, and I can't say that it's a super convincing argument. At times, it seems the author wanted the title more than she wanted to actually prove the statement. The last 5 minutes of the book (audiobook--had some knitting to do) tries to wrap it all up in a tidy bow, but I definitely felt the strain on the strings.
What to most of us know about the history of English America during the colonial period? Not much, that's what. In fact, many of us don't know much beyond what Disney's Pocahontas taught us - most of it flat out wrong. So this book is an absolute eye opener. The astonishing saga of the Sea Venture - being caught up in a hurricane and wrecking off the coast of the Bahamas - juxtaposed against the horrors of the "starving times" in the Jamestown settlement was almost poetic. Glover has taken a spo ...more
The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown was an easy read that told the story of the early years of the Jamestown colony and the difficulties the colonists endured, focusing particularly on the Sea Venture and its crew’s role in history. However, significant portions of this book were repetitive—the beginning of each chapter seemed to recap all of the prior chapters, and parts of this book were repeated almost word for word. Moreover, things got off track in the end. Rather than explain why the Virgin ...more
Not the easiest to read because they use source material and the English language has changed so much - but, that is one of the interesting aspects of this book. While reading this, I was able to be less self-centered, as my problems seemed really trivial. For those that like books about American history like 1776, Founding Brothers, etc - you will find this really fascinating. For those that like stories about vampire teenagers torn by the difficult decision of who they should sleep with next, ...more
Sarah Marjorie
The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown; The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America by Glover and Smith.


On her way to the struggling settlement of Jamestown, a ship is destroyed by a hurricane.
She washes toward Bermuda just before she sinks. Her passengers have arrived in a serene paradise.

Oh! Stories of shipwrecks on exotic deserted islands have always captured my imagination. This delicious book fed my voracious appetite. Can you picture what Shakespeare must have dreamt in his he
Having lived near Jamestown for several years and reading many books about Jamestown over the past several months (in preparation for visiting the area with my children in April) I was surprised at how much I learned from this book - but most of it wasn't directly about Jamestown. Ms. Glover and Mr. Smith use a lot of ink discussing what was going on back in London during the 1607-1611 time period, including how the Virginia Company advertised for settlers and investors, the role that religion p ...more
This was an interesting history of the first years of the Jamestown settlement which and probably most people know little about other than the Pocahontas and John Smith story.
The Shipwreck mentioned in the title was an attempt by the Virginia company to save the initial settlement. Four of the five ships made it, but came in such condition that they were actually a burden to the colony. The food had been destroyed in a storm. Also, since the ship with instructions on who was to run the Virginia
Matt Chittum
Reading this book, I realized I'd been in a nautical mode for alot of this summer. It started with a book about the Nantucket whaleship Essex, continued with "Thunderstruck," Erik Larson's book about Marconi and the attempt to market the wireless telegraph to, among other people, cruise ship lines, moved to Tony Horwitz' "A Voyage Long and Strange," and culminated with this book. Pretty academic, especially for a guy who likes more literary history stuff. The most illuminating stuff for me was n ...more
ej cullen
150 brave and disenchanted travelers set out within small ships to rejuvenate a failing colony. Shipwrecked literally is the lead ship and they find Bermuda, a lush, welcoming land with fruits, hogs, (plenty of food) and no grumpy "indians," Captain directs new boats to be built pushes them onward towards Virginia. Some don't want to leave, (a few mutineers don't) and one cannot blame them. Jamestown is a disaster. Newly examined documents tell us that John Smith, the self-proclaimed hero of the ...more
The content and information = excellent.
Michael Prichard reading = no... He just wasn't for me; I was falling asleep while driving, and that's not a good thing. I'm not sure how he's recorded over 450 books, but perhaps some people enjoy him. I made it 1/4 of the way through.

Perhaps I'll try it again as an actual book.
Tom Darrow
A good read on a lesser known story in US history. Well researched and well written, it incorporates numerous historical themes in a way that doesn't come off as sounding too academic. One minor drawback is that their thesis could be a little more strongly proven.
At times very well written, others, vague and repetitive. Account of the wreck of the Sea Venture and the role, albeit a small one, in the history of colonizing America by the British. The story of the Sea Venture is a terribly interesting story in itself.
A very readable account of an aspect of the history of Jamestown with which I was unfamiliar. It is occasionally repetitive, perhaps because there were two authors.
Senor Andrew
Very informative, but bored me almost to death.
James Loffredo
Feb 10, 2014 James Loffredo marked it as to-read
Linda I
This would have been an interesting and engaging book about the British Virginia Company's attempts to colonize Virginia but, sadly, it was excessively repetitive and long-winded. The entire story could have been summed in a much tidier and more linear storyline. The author must have felt that repeating events over-and-over and presenting the storyline out of sequence made for a more scholarly read. Whatever. This fascinating story ended up becoming boring and painful to finish. Not recommended.
Josh Whitmore
I always had heard the commonly told story, but never this side. Very interesting, for the most part.
A fascinating bit of history that is often left out. This book gives the full context of the Jamestown Colony - the basic idea is that the colony was a failure until London finally decided to actually send enough colonists and enough supplies over. The writing is interesting, although it's occasionally repetitive.
A good account of the harrowing experiences and adventures of the earliest English colonists in Virginia and, by accident, in Bermuda. Somewhat heavy in the "providential", the book nonetheless correctly notes the impact of promotional work and the religious undertones of the enterprise.
I had never heard (or didn't remember)that that one of the ships sent with supplies and colonists for Jamestown during the "Starving Time" went aground on Bermuda. I will give it two stars because I learned something, but it was very, very dry.
Shonda Wilson
Probably one of the most entertaining and yet informative accounts of the early colonial experience. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in colonization and the experience in Virginia in the early 1600s.
Ken Angle
Adds yet another piece of a history not well known and easily over looked. States may have discovered america. But private enterprize settled it. KGA
I wasn't interested enough in the subject to try and wade through all the quotations of old English. Very slow moving and dry.
Informative but repetitive & written in patronizing documentary-narration style.
A little weak in the telling - often repetitive - but what a tale.
Crystal is currently reading it
Mar 10, 2015
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