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Savage Kingdom: Virginia and The Founding of English America [Hardcover]

Benjamin Woolley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2007

Stunning epic history of the first Virginia Colony and the true story of Pocahontas, to coincide with the colony’s 400th anniversary in 2007.

Four centuries ago, and fourteen 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-left London aboard a fleet of three ships to start a new life in America. They arrived in Virginia in the spring of 1607, 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, a ramshackle outpost which laid the foundations of the British Empire and the United States of America.

Drawing on new discoveries, neglected sources and manuscript collections scattered across the world, Savage Kingdom challenges the textbook image of Jamestown as a mere money-making venture. It reveals a reckless, daring enterprise led by outcasts of the old world who found themselves interlopers in a new one. It charts their journey into a beautiful landscape and sophisticated culture that they found both ravishing and alien, which they yearned to possess, but threatened to destroy.

It shows them trying to escape the 'Savage Kingdom' that their homeland had become, and endeavoring to build 'one of the most glorious nations under the sun'.
An intimate story in an epic setting, Woolley shows how the land of Pocahontas came to be drawn into a new global order, reaching from London to the Orinoco Delta, from the warring kingdoms of Angola to the slave markets of Mexico, from the gates of the Ottoman Empire to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; First Edition edition (5 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007131690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007131693
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.6 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,097,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Benjamin Woolley is a writer and broadcaster, author of five non-fiction books published around the world, and Emmy-award-winning writer and presenter of TV documentaries on subjects ranging from ancient board games to the Space Age.

Product Description


‘With imagination, restraint and delicacy Woolley crafts a narrative both finely-grained and meticulously plotted – a fitting memorial for the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's foundation. As in his previous works, the lightest touch reanimates the past, evoking and elucidating equally.‘ Sunday Telegraph

‘Woolley…tells the story lucidly, elegantly and with a command of the broad sweep of the early 17th century and the fine details of human behaviour.’ The Guardian

‘It's fascinating to get access to a society in which individuals make an impact…for those on the ground one thing followed another and the best thing about this book is the way it gives a sense of how hectic and dangerous that felt.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Benjamin Woolley tells this story in direct, engaging prose…his book is a delight.’ The Spectator

‘This fine, highly readable and thoroughly charming account…Woolley has drawn brilliantly on neglected sources from across the world to reveal what this reckless endeavour managed to achieve in the land of Pocahontas.’ Independent on Sunday

‘Benjamin Woolley has produced a rollicking account of the early years of the English in America, full of fascinating detail.’ Mail on Sunday

‘“Savage Kingdom” is beautifully written and illustrated…Woolley does an especially good job of contextualising the many narratives describing early Virginia.’ BBC History Magazine

‘In his addictively readable narrative, Woolley not only deconstructs the myth of Pocahontas to reveal a more complex truth, but also tells the multilayered story of how a ramshackle outpost of Jacobean England sowed the seeds of what eventually became the most powerful nation on earth.’ Sunday Times

‘Woolley's impressive scholarship goes almost unnoticed in this lively, enthralling account of how "a new other Britain" was built "in that new other World".’ The Scotsman

Daily Telegraph

'It's fascinating to get access to a society in which individuals
make an impact...'

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Savage Kingdom 11 Jun 2007
By Howard
A wonderful book !

The depth of academic research is truly astounding and the narrative is beautifully crafted.

What a wonderful book to appear at the time of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia.
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