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

Bloomsbury Pr. Oct. 2018. 512p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781632867773. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781632867797. HIST
Kelly (literature, Coll. of Charleston; America's Longest Siege) presents a compelling argument: that the seeds of American democracy developed in the harsh experience of the 1607 Jamestown settlement. There, a meritocracy of skills and efforts, argues Kelly, combined with a desperation born out of near starvation, eroded adherence to the old world class system. The social and political organization of the colonies made obtaining supplies from England difficult and unpredictable. Left to their own resources in an unfamiliar environment, settlers chafed at their government's inept rule. Furthermore, the rigid social structure was ineffective when men were "marooned," or isolated in an unexpected place and forced to survive on meager means. More than a dozen mutinies or incidences of insubordination arose in the colony within the first few years. In less than a decade, the challenges of Jamestown led to a democratization of the governing philosophy when a new charter was instituted by James I.
VERDICT Citing previous scholarship, this rather dense read is presented with careful attention to appeal to general readers. For historians interested in the challenges of colonization, this groundbreaking work will be well received.

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