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Good Book - Lousy Title
on 8 August 2010
Don't be put off by the title of this book which obviously comes straight out of the publisher's marketing department.
The title is not only vulgar and clumsy but also inaccurate as many of the main events described occurred after Elizabeth's death, during King James's reign.
Furthermore, despite the fact that the English did end up with their 13 colonies, England did not win the New World. The present-day United States was created by native Americans who expanded its borders, just as present-day Brazil was created by the Brazilians and not the Portuguese.
After a rather labored start, the book gains pace as it describes the various attempts by settlers and businessmen to establish a presence in North America.
The action switches from the settlers who face trouble from the local Indians, the weather and their tyrannical masters, to the moneymen in London who hope to make a fortune from this venture.
It is quite a good read but I feel there are many areas that could have been pursued. For example, rather than retelling the story of Sir Walter Raleigh, the author could have made more of an effort to find out what happened to the settlers who were left behind for 15 years before being massacred by unfriendly Indians.
He also has the chance to end the myth that the English were racists who did not mix with the local people. There must obviously have been a lot of mixing between Englishmen and Indian women and vice versa as several Indians were taken to England where they spent years. There was also even an idea of taking young Indian boys to London to be educated and married off to English spinsters who would then accompany them back to America and help produce a race that would bring the two cultures together.
If this subject is of interest I would recommend Nathaniel Philbrick's "Mayflower" which follows the later wave of English settlers - the Pilgrims - who faced many of the same problems but finally succeeded.