Saturday, April 6, 2013

Reflections: Love & Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New Nation

Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts on David A. Price's Love and Hate in Jamestown:

love and hate in jamestown"Last year I went on a family vacation to Virginia.  We stayed in an antebellum home overlooking the James River.  As part of our trip, we visited the historical site of Jamestown, which was truly a pleasure since I have such an interest in America history.  I wandered around the gift shop of the Jamestown museum and one book in particular—Love & Hate in Jamestown—caught my eye.  Recognizing my own ignorance of much of the details of the Jamestown saga I decided to read what David A. Price had to say about a pivotal moment in our nation's history before it was our nation.

Love & Hate in Jamestown is a great book.  Its brevity is certainly a strength for many readers who aren't willing to dedicate weeks and weeks, hours and hours reading about one particular topic.  At the same time, the book doesn't feel as if it's being unfair to the personalities and events it discusses.  I would have liked some additional details at various points in the book and was disappointed when the author moved in another direction so quickly, but the complaint is minor seeing as how there is a multitude of books on the same topic which could enrich my knowledge even more of this important time.

David A. Price does a wonderful job, in my opinion, of being fair while dealing with some very harsh realities between the colonists of Jamestown and the 'savages' in their midst.  It reminded me so much of reading Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower as he described the pilgrim's interactions with the natives in Massachusetts.  There were faults, misunderstandings, civility, incivility, kindness, and brutality from both sides.  The treatment of the Native Americans during the colonization era can be politically charged, but Love & Hate in Jamestown leaves most of the politics behind and allows the reader to merely observe.

Love & Hate in Jamestown is very much worth reading, and I would recommend it without hesitation.  It's not burdensome to read, and it reveals a fascinating part of America's past before it was America.  Love & Hate in Jamestown is a fine choice for any Thousander's list."

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