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The Jamestown Experiment: The Remarkable Story of the Enterprising Colony and the Unexpected Results That Shaped America
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The Jamestown Experiment: The Remarkable Story of the Enterprising Colony and the Unexpected Results That Shaped America

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  166 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews

"The American dream was built along the banks of the James River in Virginia."

The settlers who established America's first permanent English colony at Jamestown were not seeking religious or personal freedom. They were comprised of gentlemen adventurers and common tradesmen who risked their lives and fortunes on the venture and stood to reap the rewards-the rewards of per

Paperback, 302 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks (first published January 1st 2011)
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Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
This book needs maps!!!! Why do so many people who write historical accounts fail to include maps in their books? My reason for reading the book is that we will be moving to the Jamestown area shortly and I wanted to learn more about the colony. I feel that I learned more about some of the men who became Jamestown's first settlers, including George Yeardley for whom our new street is named. And the colony was not set up by the English government but by a corporation who wanted to see if they cou ...more
Jim Amos
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best dark comedies/seafaring adventures/zombie horror stories I've ever read, and it was all true! Remarkable. The Jamestown settlement was a wholly corporate venture, criminally mismanaged and ethically abhorrent from beginning to end--bet they don't teach this in schools!

Parts of this were so funny, the sheer incompetence of the settlers, the stupidity of their leaders, and the ways in which all their mistakes could basically be blamed on men thinking with their penis instead of the
Laura LeAnn
Having taught US History, I was interested to know more of the details of the founding of Jamestown and exactly what happened that allowed this colony to become the "first permanent English colony" in what is now the US. I found it a bit difficult to get into this book due to the dry writing style at the very beginning of the book, going through all of the different explorers from various countries that had gone on voyages, their causes, and results from those voyages. While establishing a basis ...more
Rob Hawks
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interesting read. Could have benefited from a more exacting editor.
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book, but the last several chapters, it seemed like someone got tired of editing the book and quite a few grammatical and punctuation errors proved distracting.
Lauren Albert
A decent basic history of the events, if sometimes prone to overwrought language.
While the barebones of the facts are included it feels thin. Much better for the facts, with more complete academic research, are "American Colonies: the Settling of North America" by Alan Taylor and "Savage Kingdom: the True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America" by Benjamin Woolley.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was an easy read on the early history of Jamestown. And, of course, we all know this, but Disney's Pocahontas is so far off they should have called it something else. It was nice to hear a little more detail of the real story.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A glimpse into the story behind the story. What your history teacher didn't tell you.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-history
I feel like I may have read two books. One I really liked. And one that was what the author wished he could have written.

One is the very detailed and interesting story of the Jamestown colony. Despite growing up only an hour away, I knew very little about Jamestown. I mean I knew the basics. Englishmen got there, they fought Native Americans, they died a lot. Helps that my high school was in the same county as Matoaca High School (Matoaca--another name for Pocahontas), Monacan (a Native America
Denise Barney
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. William's hypothesis is the virtues that ultimately allowed the Jamestown colony to succeed are those that determined the American character.

Jamestown was founded by investors hoping to find gold and silver, convert the native people to Anglican Christianity, find the Nothwest Passage to Asia and her riches, and to keep the Spanish out of North America. The experiment was an absymal failure. The settlers starved or died of disease. They were indolent. The Natives were most definitely NOT fr
Bill P.
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Williams positions his historical account of the colonization of Jamestown as an experiment in venture capitalism, which it clearly was when considering how the colony was funded completely by private investors who bought shares. But the reader need not worry that this is a dry work of spread sheets, analysis of return on investment or how finacing and banking worked in 1604. Williams presentation of the founding of Jamestown reads like a novel with all the principle characters on both the Engli ...more
Norm Davis
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: US History buffs
Recommended to Norm by: Kristina Davis
Shelves: history, non-fiction
What struck me first was the Jane Austen vocabulary and 1700s grammar, and manor in a relatively new history book that relies primarily history books from the 2000s. I wonder if it was some goofy editor that wanted a history book that sounded like the era it was being written about. Ok... that bug's of me now without calling the author names.

This is one of recent history books in a quasi story form that would have you remembering the main characters in the history of Jamestown if Williams would
Donnie Edgemon
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Although Williams could use a good editor, his research and story-telling are strong in this book. It provides good detail on English exploration in the New World and the first decade and a half or so of the Jamestown colony. Williams makes and supports the hypothesis that Jamestown struggled as a settlement of militaristic rules, and only began to thrive as the powers of self-interest overtook rigid authoritarianism. Regardless of the hypothesis or Williams' compelling case, the book is worthwh ...more
Maryclaire Zampogna
This book on Jamestown gives many different reasons for the first failure of the colony. It also examines the reasons all of the people involved were there. The author takes the time to explain the problems of all the settlers who were dependent on the supple ships that never came. The problems within the colony, it's location, climate,illness and the reasons it did finally work in Va. This book also covers more detail about the people of the colony, the Native Americans, and the European involv ...more
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To my mind the title is much more hopeful and positive than the actual story. It is likely the title looks good in the gift shops around Jamestown and appeals to casual shoppers. The book rightly tells a more sober story of poor planning, bad decisions on location, manpower, supplies and logistics. The story is remarkable in that Jamestown survived. The book presents the facts and the readers are left to draw their own conclusions. It is interesting to me that the English didn't learn from their ...more
Timothy Finucane
May 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
A well written account of the founding of the Jamestown colony. The author specifically focuses on the economic side of the business venture and eventually shows how the Virginia company found that liberty, self-governing, and entrepreneurship are what made the colony a success. This read is well worth the time and shows how the very first English colony in America set the tone for what would become the America we know today.
Three and a half stars actually. I enjoy reading history books, but they can be dead dry. This wasn't and I have to give Williams a lot of credit for that.

On the other hand, I'm not fully convinced of his thesis that it was the solely the influence of the early opportunistic capitalists that shaped our country, given that they ran the show for such a short time. But it was still a fascinating read.
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent history that is about a fascinating topic. The book stops a little short and ends when the Virginia Company loses it's charter and Jamestown becomes a Royal Colony. I would have liked to have seen more into the history of the colony beyond that point. Regardless, the material that the author does tackle is quite interesting.
Chasity Johnson
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provides a detailed history of Jamestown. The author has done a great deal of research so that the reader is provided with a very real vision of what the first inhabitants of Jamestown experienced. The detail is unreal and nothing I remember learning in school. Those that enjoy early American history will find this to be a great addition to their reading list.
May 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
An interesting topic undermined by the author's academic tone, repetitive phrasing, and predictable need to footnote every paragraph. Nevertheless, I liked the overview of the Jamestown story as well as a glimpse into colonial America's origins. The book did move quickly and was a pleasant read. But if you aren't really into the topic, you might want to avoid this book.
May 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
After reading about Jamestown in the book the Seven Miracles...I decided I wanted to know more!! Very interesting book. Facts taken from journals of explorers and others who were there in Jamestown. It IS a miracle that it actually became a settlement. Many hardships and lots of determination were involved. A good look into our history.
James Stevens
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a surprising narrative for those who were never taught the full details of the settling of Jamestown. The story is well told, but often disappointing because of how the English behaved. It is an amazing record of survival, often at the cost of both English and Native American lives.
Jeff Shackelford
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I learned much, but I feel like there is so much more about the history that could have been included. All in all though, it was a fine read.
Lori Anderson
I just couldn't finish this. I skimmed some, then put it down. To me, it read more like a text book, which isn't what I wanted. Sorry.
Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Lots of fascinating information, but not the best writing. I often got lost and confused from the author jumping between subjects. Still, I learned a lot!
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting historical account. Wish History had been this interesting when I was in school. Parts of it drag along, but I imagine it drug along for those who lived it, as well.
Erin Dewan
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing book that shed a great deal of insight on the struggles the initial settlers faced and how the events shaped the American Dream.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pedantic. Repetitive.
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very good concise account of what happened at Jamestown. It is good introductory material for anyone interested in early American history.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads' database with this name. taught history and literature for ten years, and has a Master’s in American History from Ohio State University. He is currently a full-time author who lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with his wife and children.
More about Tony Williams...