Captain John Smith : Jamestown and the Birth of the American Dream
Books about both John Smith and the early colonization efforts at Jamestown are numerous, and this book doesn’t cover any new ground on either topic. It is, however, an extremely readable and well-written book on the subject and has the added bonus of its approach, namely viewing John Smith as the personification of the American ideal of seizing opportunity and working one’s way up.
The book extensively utilizes primary sources, a few of which are even newly discovered; unfortunately, when the source is Smith himself, there is arguably a great deal of exaggeration and perhaps even untruth to sort through. The authors tend to give Smith the benefit of the doubt in all cases, but whether or not this is wise is the province of historians to debate. The Smith of this book comes across as brash, confident, antagonistic, and heroic – one of the few men of intelligence, vision, and the wherewithal to get things done at Jamestown. The Hooblers’ examination of the politics and personalities of the people involved (and how Smith fit in to the larger picture) is interesting, and it enlightens one’s understanding of the story of one of America’s first colonies.