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Marooned

Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America's Origin

Joseph Kelly

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Bloomsbury
01 December 2020
For readers of Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower, a groundbreaking history that makes the case for replacing Plymouth Rock with Jamestown as America's founding myth.

We all know the great American origin story: It begins with an exodus. Fleeing religious persecution, the hardworking, pious Pilgrims thrived in the wilds of New England, where they built their fabled shining city on a hill. Legend goes that the colony in Jamestown was a false start, offering a cautionary tale of lazy louts hunted gold till they starved and shiftless settlers who had to be rescued by English food and the hard discipline of martial law.

Neither story is true. In Marooned, Joseph Kelly re-examines the history of Jamestown and comes to a radically different and decidedly American interpretation of these first Virginians.

In this gripping account of shipwrecks and mutiny in America's earliest settlements, Kelly argues that the colonists at Jamestown were literally and figuratively marooned, cut loose from civilization, and cast into the wilderness. The British caste system meant little on this frontier: those who wanted to survive had to learn to work and fight and intermingle with the nearby native populations. Ten years before the Mayflower Compact and decades before Hobbes and Locke, they invented the idea of government by the people. 150 years before Jefferson, the colonists discovered the truth that all men were equal.

The epic origin of America was not an exodus and a fledgling theocracy. It is a tale of shipwrecked castaways of all classes marooned in the wilderness fending for themselves in any way they could--a story that illuminates who we are as a nation today.
By:   Joseph Kelly
Imprint:   Bloomsbury
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm, 
Weight:   454g
ISBN:   9781632867780
ISBN 10:   1632867788
Pages:   512
Publication Date:   01 December 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Joseph Kelly is a professor of literature at the College of Charleston and a member of the American Studies Association. He is the author of America's Longest Siege Charleston, Slavery, and the Slow March Toward Civil War, and the editor of the Seagull Reader series. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Reviews for Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America's Origin

[A] stimulating history of Jamestown . . . a superb portrait of the founding, combining brilliant detail with epic sweep. --Starred review, Publishers Weekly An insightful re-examination of the 1607 Jamestown settlement . . . Kelly's lively, heavily researched, frequently gruesome account gives a slight nod to Jamestown as the 'better place to look for the genesis of American ideals.' --Starred review, Kirkus Reviews The U.S. loves its creation myths, and this mythmaking, myth-breaking history gives us a new character, Stephen Hopkins... Though Hopkins and those like him left few records, Kelly fleshes out the available glimpses with a vivid, detailed description of the settlement and its English and Native American contexts...Kelly's dynamic narrative brings Jamestown to life and shows how history reflects the present as well as the past. --starred review, Booklist Kelly has woven a tapestry that is so dense in detail and so richly colored that it may become a kind of Bayeux Tapestry of the history of Jamestown. --The Roanoke Times Despite the volume of this book and the controversial interpretations, it makes a fast easy adventure in reading. It includes the familiar such as John Smith but so much else. --Robert S. Davis, New York Journal of Books Most amazing new book on early Virginia. --Anthony Comegna, Liberty Chronicles podcast For historians interested in the challenges of colonization, this groundbreaking work will be well received. --John Muller, Library Journal


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