Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origin

Written by Joseph Kelly
Review by Thomas j. Howley

In 1607, three English ships, and about a hundred settlers and crew landed in Chesapeake Bay in what will later become Virginia. They are greeted by the arrows of local Indians on their first day. Thus is the stage set for what follows. The English party consists of “gentlemen,” soldiers and common people and factions grow even before landfall. Relations with the Indians swerve between intimate amiability and total war at different times. Survival is tenuous, and the plantation is only relieved by occasional “supplies” from England, one of which results in a marooning in Bermuda.

Marooned is a long, dramatic historical and sociological tract. There are many illuminating facts and anecdotes to be discovered here, among them: the mayor of London wanted to use Jamestown to entice the “swarms of idle persons to emigrate;” there was an historical Indian princess Pocahontas, who was actually known as Amonute; Virginia was only a small chapter in John Smith’s long martial career; the English domesticated animals were as critical as arms and armor in survival.  I recommend the reader ignore the polemic about whether Plymouth or Jamestown was the real “birth of America” and enjoy all the new and fascinating details to be learned in Marooned.