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The Journals of Captain John Smith: A Jamestown Biography

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Drawing from Smith's own personal journals, this concise biography paints a rich and detailed portrait of one of America's most intriguing founding fathers. Historian John Thompson guides us through annotated selections of Smith's most important and compelling writings, adding authoritative perspective and commentary to round out the picture. The volume includes some of th Drawing from Smith's own personal journals, this concise biography paints a rich and detailed portrait of one of America's most intriguing founding fathers. Historian John Thompson guides us through annotated selections of Smith's most important and compelling writings, adding authoritative perspective and commentary to round out the picture. The volume includes some of the earliest primary source accounts of life in colonial Virginia, including excerpts from Proceedings of the English Colony of Virginia (1612), Generall Historie of Virginia (1624), and The True Adventures and Observations of Captain John Smith (1630). Readers share eyewitness accounts of Smith's capture and imprisonment by the Indians, his explorations of the Chesapeake Bay region, and various other adventures and exploits in the New World. We get a firsthand look at Smith's pivotal role in the founding and governance of colonial Jamestown and his attempts to establish trade relationships with the Native Americans. We also learn the real facts behind Smith's relationship with Pocahontas—an American legend that pervades our popular culture, from the animated Disney classic to the critically acclaimed 2005 film starring Colin Farrell. With the upcoming 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, a whole new generation of readers and history buffs will be seeking more information about Smith and his fellow colonists. This lively, illustrated edition will be a valuable resource—providing a fresh, accessible look at a key historical figure and conveying a vivid sense of what life in the New World was like.


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Drawing from Smith's own personal journals, this concise biography paints a rich and detailed portrait of one of America's most intriguing founding fathers. Historian John Thompson guides us through annotated selections of Smith's most important and compelling writings, adding authoritative perspective and commentary to round out the picture. The volume includes some of th Drawing from Smith's own personal journals, this concise biography paints a rich and detailed portrait of one of America's most intriguing founding fathers. Historian John Thompson guides us through annotated selections of Smith's most important and compelling writings, adding authoritative perspective and commentary to round out the picture. The volume includes some of the earliest primary source accounts of life in colonial Virginia, including excerpts from Proceedings of the English Colony of Virginia (1612), Generall Historie of Virginia (1624), and The True Adventures and Observations of Captain John Smith (1630). Readers share eyewitness accounts of Smith's capture and imprisonment by the Indians, his explorations of the Chesapeake Bay region, and various other adventures and exploits in the New World. We get a firsthand look at Smith's pivotal role in the founding and governance of colonial Jamestown and his attempts to establish trade relationships with the Native Americans. We also learn the real facts behind Smith's relationship with Pocahontas—an American legend that pervades our popular culture, from the animated Disney classic to the critically acclaimed 2005 film starring Colin Farrell. With the upcoming 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, a whole new generation of readers and history buffs will be seeking more information about Smith and his fellow colonists. This lively, illustrated edition will be a valuable resource—providing a fresh, accessible look at a key historical figure and conveying a vivid sense of what life in the New World was like.

30 review for The Journals of Captain John Smith: A Jamestown Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Vincent

    Though an important historical work, I found it hard to follow. Smith was an adventurous, brave leader. Certainly shows faith in God and His Sovereign will. As described, there were many hardships with the land and natives in establishing the Jamestown settlement. I purchased this work at the bookstore on the site.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Moore

    I enjoyed the history in this book. At the beginning of every chapter is a summary of the events of that chapter in italics by the editor, then the chapter ensues with the original journal entries. After a few chapters, I got bogged down by the old English language in the original journals, and began just reading the summaries at the chapter beginning and then just skimming the journal. The summaries are very thorough in reporting what happened & much easier to understand. From the Introduction I enjoyed the history in this book. At the beginning of every chapter is a summary of the events of that chapter in italics by the editor, then the chapter ensues with the original journal entries. After a few chapters, I got bogged down by the old English language in the original journals, and began just reading the summaries at the chapter beginning and then just skimming the journal. The summaries are very thorough in reporting what happened & much easier to understand. From the Introduction by the Editor, John M. Thompson: "In late December 1606 the Susan Constant and two smaller ships eased from the Thames River and out toward the Atlantic. The 144 passengers and crew were embarked upon a daring mission. If they succeeded, they would be rich and famous for life, if they failed, they would die. Their goal was to set up an outpost in a place called Virginia, which was about as well known as any named feature on the moon. Spain had nominally claimed it - along with thousands of miles of Atlantic coastline - based on cursory explorations. Going on hunches, hearsay, and opinions on good latitudes, a group of investors called the Virginia Company of London reckoned that Virginia would be the perfect location to find precious metals - namely, gold and silver. While there, the colonists could also probably find a shortcut to the Pacific and thus bring more profits through trade with the Orient. The venture was, in short, no grand vision of America from sea to shining sea, but a get-rich-quick scheme." From the back cover: "In 1607, a group of some 100 colonists began building the first English colony in America on the Banks of Virginia's James River. After a series of disasters that nearly wiped the colony out, the leader who emerged was a redoubtable commoner named John Smith. His writings on the Jamestown adventure form a riveting tale of hardship and triumph in the wilderness. Focusing on Smith's 2-1/2 years in Jamestown, this edition of his work details the colony's founding and its struggle to survive. During these years, Smith matched wits and arms with the mighty Indian ruler, Powhatan, became entangled with Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas, put down mutinies, explored the entire Chesapeake and its main rivers, and kept the nascent colony from going under." Captain Smith's many brushes with death, including from injuries, poisoning, illness, and the moment that Powhatan was about to execute him when Pocahontas stepped in and pleaded for Smith's life, make one wonder if Divine Providence, to which Smith attributed his survival, wasn't actually the case. This history of what Smith did (many times in direct opposition to orders from England) to establish & save the colony is absolutely amazing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I'll admit, I did not read every single word. Once I realized the beginning of each chapter was a modern-day translation summary of the actual journal entries, I only read the translations. The old-English style journal entries, while they did offer more detail, were much slower to read and get through due to the language. Sadly, I was also looking for different information, and didn't find it here, so I was a bit bias when reading. While fascinating to read, Smith seems very careful with his wo I'll admit, I did not read every single word. Once I realized the beginning of each chapter was a modern-day translation summary of the actual journal entries, I only read the translations. The old-English style journal entries, while they did offer more detail, were much slower to read and get through due to the language. Sadly, I was also looking for different information, and didn't find it here, so I was a bit bias when reading. While fascinating to read, Smith seems very careful with his words and only reports on things he is influential. What about the low moments of the colonies? He glosses over them. But his battle with a sting ray is rather descriptive. If anyone has recommendations on Smith's life pre-Virginia, I'd love to find out more. Thanks.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    annoying book. Could have been very interesting if the author hadn't decided to tell us everything fist in a modern version and then tell you the same story in the orinal texts. So you had to read everything twice. At least you will remember what you read. annoying book. Could have been very interesting if the author hadn't decided to tell us everything fist in a modern version and then tell you the same story in the orinal texts. So you had to read everything twice. At least you will remember what you read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ever

    There is too much editing and annotation present for me to really like this, but it is a neat sampling of John Smith's writings. There is too much editing and annotation present for me to really like this, but it is a neat sampling of John Smith's writings.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stevahkno Fwaurmo

    I had to read this book for one of my classes, and at first dreaded having to do it, but as I dug deeper into the book it turned out to be quite fascinating and very informative.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aileen

    This is a decent book. I've enjoyed the extra detail on John Smith that you don't normally get in other books. This is a decent book. I've enjoyed the extra detail on John Smith that you don't normally get in other books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Hart

  9. 4 out of 5

    Simon Mawson

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Dietrich

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vera

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roger Warner

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan Tuten

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lee

  16. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  17. 5 out of 5

    Howard Zimering

  18. 4 out of 5

    Frank Obi

  19. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Kay

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

  22. 5 out of 5

    Steve DeViney

  23. 4 out of 5

    Greta Martin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eazy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Parelius

  27. 4 out of 5

    FelisLibris

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Simkonis

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gary Malandro

  30. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

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