Walter Ralegh: Architect of Empire

Basic. Nov. 2019. 576p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781541645790. $40.. BIOG
There is no denying that Sir Walter Ralegh (1552–1618) opened the door to English colonization of North America, and that one can draw a line straight from Roanoke to the wide-scale massacre and removal of Native peoples in what is now the United States. Gallay (history, Texas Christian Univ.; The Indian Slave Trade) refers to Ralegh as a colonizer throughout this latest work, but tries to soften the term in a way that is not quite successful. Even some of the people Ralegh sent to America in his lifetime believed that bloody conquest was the best policy. While Ralegh might have advocated for more peaceful methods, it was still with the ultimate goal of extracting natural resources from the land and people of the Americas. What this book does reveal, however, are the ways in which English colonization of the Americas was similar to contemporary efforts in Ireland, in which Ralegh also played a key role. This does not lighten the impact of American colonization but rather adds a sinister tone to English settlement of Ireland.
VERDICT A good choice for those already familiar with the broad strokes of Elizabethan England, and for readers seeking to expand their knowledge of Ralegh’s life and works.

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