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A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

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In 1587, John White and 117 men, women, and children landed off the coast of North Carolina on Roanoke Island, hoping to carve a colony from fearsome wilderness. A mere month later, facing quickly diminishing supplies and a fierce native population, White sailed back to England in desperation. He persuaded the wealthy Sir Walter Raleigh, the expedition's sponsor, to rescue In 1587, John White and 117 men, women, and children landed off the coast of North Carolina on Roanoke Island, hoping to carve a colony from fearsome wilderness. A mere month later, facing quickly diminishing supplies and a fierce native population, White sailed back to England in desperation. He persuaded the wealthy Sir Walter Raleigh, the expedition's sponsor, to rescue the imperiled colonists, but by the time White returned with aid the colonists of Roanoke were nowhere to be found. He never saw his friends or family again.In this gripping account based on new archival material, colonial historian James Horn tells for the first time the complete story of what happened to the Roanoke colonists and their descendants. A compellingly original examination of one of the great unsolved mysteries of American history, A Kingdom Strange will be essential reading for anyone interested in our national origins.


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In 1587, John White and 117 men, women, and children landed off the coast of North Carolina on Roanoke Island, hoping to carve a colony from fearsome wilderness. A mere month later, facing quickly diminishing supplies and a fierce native population, White sailed back to England in desperation. He persuaded the wealthy Sir Walter Raleigh, the expedition's sponsor, to rescue In 1587, John White and 117 men, women, and children landed off the coast of North Carolina on Roanoke Island, hoping to carve a colony from fearsome wilderness. A mere month later, facing quickly diminishing supplies and a fierce native population, White sailed back to England in desperation. He persuaded the wealthy Sir Walter Raleigh, the expedition's sponsor, to rescue the imperiled colonists, but by the time White returned with aid the colonists of Roanoke were nowhere to be found. He never saw his friends or family again.In this gripping account based on new archival material, colonial historian James Horn tells for the first time the complete story of what happened to the Roanoke colonists and their descendants. A compellingly original examination of one of the great unsolved mysteries of American history, A Kingdom Strange will be essential reading for anyone interested in our national origins.

30 review for A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

  1. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    On my recent trip to North Carolina, I took a very short time to see Roanoke Island & the National Park there. It piqued my interest in the lost colony. I chose this book from the library because it had good reviews and was a small book. It is very well documented. Two things I fault the book on is that it spends a great deal of time on English events and that the reproductions of drawings and maps of the era are useless because of the size of the book. As to the former, is does give a concise h On my recent trip to North Carolina, I took a very short time to see Roanoke Island & the National Park there. It piqued my interest in the lost colony. I chose this book from the library because it had good reviews and was a small book. It is very well documented. Two things I fault the book on is that it spends a great deal of time on English events and that the reproductions of drawings and maps of the era are useless because of the size of the book. As to the former, is does give a concise history of England of that period. I just got tired of all the wars and political wrangling. That being said, I did enjoy reading the book. Though some reviewers say it doesn't give any additional light on what happened to the settlers of Roanoke, I knew almost nothing about the colony; so it was informative to me. It is amazing that people were willing to undergo such a harrowing trip to an unknown spot and risk their life (and in the case of the settlers, that of their children). Another surprising thing to me was how the English and Spanish adventurers thought nothing of attacking each others ships and settlements and take bounty. Why worry about pirates when the nations' sea captains did the same thing. Though no one really knows what happened to the original settlers left to fend for themselves for over two years, I was glad to learn that there is some evidence that some of them survived and perhaps were integrated into the friendly native tribes. For a quick overview of the Roanoke colony, I recommend the book. Think now maybe I'll look for a novel concerning this early start of settlement of the continent.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Plume

    This book was well-written, and it is a complete account of the Roanoke colony to be sure, but its jacket is a bit misleading. I don't believe that Horn truly shed any more light on the mystery of the Lost Colony than works done before his. He did bring some things together in one place in the last couple of chapters that hadn't been before, but we're still left wondering. I do recommend this book if it strikes your interest at all, but don't go into it expecting to be blown away by new revelati This book was well-written, and it is a complete account of the Roanoke colony to be sure, but its jacket is a bit misleading. I don't believe that Horn truly shed any more light on the mystery of the Lost Colony than works done before his. He did bring some things together in one place in the last couple of chapters that hadn't been before, but we're still left wondering. I do recommend this book if it strikes your interest at all, but don't go into it expecting to be blown away by new revelations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    sage

    3.5 stars. I finally read something again! This is an angle on 16th-17th C imperialism that I haven't ever read before, focusing more on Shakespearean history and Spanish/Vatican colonialism. Turns out the basics from World Civ II barely scratched the surface. I'm left with some thoughts. 1. Dear god the horrific whitewashing of US history. I am so appalled. 2. Sir Walter Raleigh, what the hell was WRONG with you, and how did you have so many successes amid your crazy abject failures? 3. Thank goodn 3.5 stars. I finally read something again! This is an angle on 16th-17th C imperialism that I haven't ever read before, focusing more on Shakespearean history and Spanish/Vatican colonialism. Turns out the basics from World Civ II barely scratched the surface. I'm left with some thoughts. 1. Dear god the horrific whitewashing of US history. I am so appalled. 2. Sir Walter Raleigh, what the hell was WRONG with you, and how did you have so many successes amid your crazy abject failures? 3. Thank goodness Horn didn't spend pages on groundless speculation. I appreciate the evidence based approach and the extensive research into contemporary non-English and English primary sources. 4. Heartache, because wow. 5. Disgust. 6. Bitter hilarity that the very same resentment by rural English at London's dominance over the national economy existed in the late 1500s still exists today. It's spurring Brexit idiocy now as it did the feuding with Europe then. Oh, also, the end notes/annotations were worth the read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben Kehres

    I read the book called The Kingdom Of Strange by James Horn which is about the lost colony of Roanoke and the events that lead up to that. Well people never actually found out what happened to the colonist at Roanoke but there are a lot of conspiracy theories behind it. The book will give its own conspiracy theory which is very interesting. This book was one of my favorite history books to read because it went into detail about a lot of things that happened in these people's lives. It also gave I read the book called The Kingdom Of Strange by James Horn which is about the lost colony of Roanoke and the events that lead up to that. Well people never actually found out what happened to the colonist at Roanoke but there are a lot of conspiracy theories behind it. The book will give its own conspiracy theory which is very interesting. This book was one of my favorite history books to read because it went into detail about a lot of things that happened in these people's lives. It also gave visuals of maps that they created back then which I thought was very cool. I would recommend this book to a person that likes history and someone open for new conspiracy theories.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I've been fascinated with the mysterious disappearance of the colonists on Roanoke Island ever since 5th grade, when I slipped a biography of Virginia Dare off the shelf next to me and read it instead of attending to the excruciatingly boring English grammar lesson in progress. (And thank you, Mrs. Schornhorst, for letting me do this, as I'm sure you knew I had this book hidden inside my larger English grammar text.) What did happen to Virginia Dare and all the other hapless colonists abandoned I've been fascinated with the mysterious disappearance of the colonists on Roanoke Island ever since 5th grade, when I slipped a biography of Virginia Dare off the shelf next to me and read it instead of attending to the excruciatingly boring English grammar lesson in progress. (And thank you, Mrs. Schornhorst, for letting me do this, as I'm sure you knew I had this book hidden inside my larger English grammar text.) What did happen to Virginia Dare and all the other hapless colonists abandoned to fate in a trackless wilderness? James Horn does a creditable job of taking the bits and pieces of what is known, including obscure accounts of Native American oral history, and coming up with a plausible answer to this question. Though his account is not gripping historical writing, it is well-researched and his conclusion sensible. His discourse also leaves one with a less judgmental attitude about John White, who rather than callously abandoning his friends and family to a difficult (and probably tragic) ending, did try to return to them but was thwarted at every turn by both the political realities of the time and the weather. Though I wouldn't recommend this to the reader with only a casual interest in history, I do think those with a particular interest in North American colonial history will find it interesting. (And who doesn't like the answer to a good unsolved historical mystery, anyway?) As for that long-ago children's biography of Virginia Dare, which was, of necessity, wholly fabricated? Turns out having her grow up with the Indians might not have been far off the mark.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Hey, you guys wanna go to a strange land and start a colony? We'll send everything you need to get you started and continually send more supplies and people to help. You can make a lot of money and be part of a new world! NAH!! Just kidding! We're gonna drop ya off and see what happens. Maybe drop by in a few years. And did I mention I'm not going with you? Yeah, I'll be staying here, but you go. Have a blast. That pretty much sums up Roanoke. Proof once again that politics has always been a co Hey, you guys wanna go to a strange land and start a colony? We'll send everything you need to get you started and continually send more supplies and people to help. You can make a lot of money and be part of a new world! NAH!! Just kidding! We're gonna drop ya off and see what happens. Maybe drop by in a few years. And did I mention I'm not going with you? Yeah, I'll be staying here, but you go. Have a blast. That pretty much sums up Roanoke. Proof once again that politics has always been a corrupt business. Yup, no such thing as the "good ole days" when it comes to politics. The book was pretty good at parts. But gave a lot of info I cared nothing about as well. Not a bad read and definitely an interesting event. Sad.....yes. Maddening.....yes. But interesting none the less.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin Kelly

    This is a well-written, well-researched, largely objective account of the Roanoke colony. I devoured it. The only issue I had was around pp 48-50, when Horn gives an overview of the Native Americans’ belief system. IMO, he should have been more specific in his phraseology to make it clear that these belief systems were unique to the Indians in this specific area. He mentions it casually, but phrases like “The Indians’ chief god was Ahone ...” implies a monolith. I would have preferred more accur This is a well-written, well-researched, largely objective account of the Roanoke colony. I devoured it. The only issue I had was around pp 48-50, when Horn gives an overview of the Native Americans’ belief system. IMO, he should have been more specific in his phraseology to make it clear that these belief systems were unique to the Indians in this specific area. He mentions it casually, but phrases like “The Indians’ chief god was Ahone ...” implies a monolith. I would have preferred more accurate phrasing. All in all, though—this was a compelling read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I initially thought this book was a novel. And since the story of the Roanoke colony has always intrigued me, I thought it would be a fun read. Of course, I was wrong. About the novel part, not the fun part. Turns out, it's a non-fiction account of the first English colonies in North America. And after realizing my mistake and embracing the book for what it was, I really enjoyed it. Originally started as part of a two-part vision - one, to be a home base for English privateers feasting off Spanish I initially thought this book was a novel. And since the story of the Roanoke colony has always intrigued me, I thought it would be a fun read. Of course, I was wrong. About the novel part, not the fun part. Turns out, it's a non-fiction account of the first English colonies in North America. And after realizing my mistake and embracing the book for what it was, I really enjoyed it. Originally started as part of a two-part vision - one, to be a home base for English privateers feasting off Spanish ships and two, to exploit the riches of the continent and discover a passage to the Pacific Ocean, thereby establishing England as a legitimate world power - the first colonies nevertheless failed to live up to their promise. Surrounded by native tribes - some tentative allies, some not - and a wild land they were unfamiliar with, the colonists struggled to survive. One attempt at widespread colonization after another failed. The Roanoke Colony officially began in 1587, with the blessing of Queen Elizabeth I and the backing of Sir Walter Ralegh. After establishing themselves on Roanoke Island, with plans to move somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay as soon as possible, they were left to fend for themselves with promises that reinforcements in the form of people and supplies would be forthcoming from England. Years passed. Priorities changed. Sir Walter Ralegh, the champion of English colonization, fell out of favor with the queen. War with Spain began. Very few were left who had any interest in that part of America where the colonists were left behind, since very little in terms of riches had been discovered. The first attempt to reach the colonies failed. And when another voyage was finally put together three years later - this time culminating in a successful landing at Roanoke - no traces of the colonists were found, the only clue the word "Croatoan" carved into a tree. To this day, the fate of the colonists is unknown. The majority of the book deals with the history of English colonization in America and the trials and tribulations of the earliest settlers. The very last section deals with the speculation of the fate of the lost colonists. Based on the scant evidence available, it seems likely that while many of the colonists died, either from illness or attack, some of them survived, integrating into native societies. No hard proof exists to support this, of course, which is what makes Roanoke's Lost Colony one of history's most enduring mysteries. All in all, an interesting read. Obviously, starting from scratch in a foreign land is a daunting task, made even more arduous by the greed and ambition of men like Sir Walter Ralegh who, instead of focusing on reinforcing the colonists who were already there, decided to embarrass himself with an ill-fated exploration of Peru and the search for the mythical city of El Dorado. It seems the search for immeasurable fortune knows no limit. I really would like to read a novel about the Roanoke Colony, though.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Harold Titus

    "A Kingdom Strange: the Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke" is a well-researched account of Sir Walter Raleigh’s failed attempts to establish an English settlement in North America. Raleigh wished to found a thriving colony to accomplish four purposes: to attack more effectively Spanish treasure ships returning to Spain from Central and South America; to keep Spanish settlement out of North America; to obtain great wealth by harvesting the land’s natural resources, in particu "A Kingdom Strange: the Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke" is a well-researched account of Sir Walter Raleigh’s failed attempts to establish an English settlement in North America. Raleigh wished to found a thriving colony to accomplish four purposes: to attack more effectively Spanish treasure ships returning to Spain from Central and South America; to keep Spanish settlement out of North America; to obtain great wealth by harvesting the land’s natural resources, in particular gold and silver; and to discover an easy passage to the Pacific Ocean and the trade-rich orient. Historian James Horn takes us methodically through the separate voyages to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds beginning with the exploratory voyage of Arthur Barlowe and Philip Amadas in 1584 and ending with John White’s tragic attempt in 1590 to re-connect with the settlement he as governor had been forced to leave three years earlier to address in London the settlement’s need for relocation and its shortage of food and supplies. Horn introduces us to the local Native American culture. He narrates effectively the arrogance and brutality of Captain Richard Grenville and Governor Ralph Lane and the eventual recognition by tribal leaders that these foreigners and their men are not gods nor allies but avaricious enemies. We see the measures taken by the Secotan Indians to rid themselves of these Englishmen, and we witness Governor Lane’s vicious retaliation. We feel artist-turned-idealistic governor John White’s frustration and anguish as he attempts to plant a new colony after Lane and his soldiers return to England. We recognize White’s need to return to London to arrange for additional settlers and supplies to be transported to Roanoke to enable the settlement to move to a safer geographic location. We learn why three years elapse before he is able to return. We see the little evidence he finds that leads him to believe where the people of his abandoned village have relocated. We feel his despair as he is prevented the opportunity to verify his supposition. We then judge the validity of the author’s theory of the fate of White’s “lost” colony. Immediately after I retired from teaching, I researched this subject matter and wrote a brief YA manuscript that if copied future Orinda, CA eighth grade students could have read. Horn’s narration, published years afterward (2010), has provided me tidbits of information I didn’t known. (Example: Walter Raleigh’s promotional efforts, planning, and preparatory actions that preceded each voyage) Horn’s footnotes offered me additional information. His timeline of events that affected discovery and colonization in America from 1492 to 1701 is also useful. If I choose to write a full-length novel about the clash of English explorers and settlers and Native Americans at Roanoke, James Horn’s book will serve as an important secondary source. Concise yet detailed, quite readable, it would benefit any reader seeking to learn about the origins of our country’s past.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Phil Ford

    Probably one of the more approachable books on the subject of the Lost Colony. A colony doomed from the outset, not only due to the elements of the New World, but also because of the whimsical politics of England at the time. Horn does a decent job of setting the political and sociological stage of the late 16th century and the players involved; the relationship of Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth, John White and his struggle against whim and bureaucracy to put together a rescue voyage in Probably one of the more approachable books on the subject of the Lost Colony. A colony doomed from the outset, not only due to the elements of the New World, but also because of the whimsical politics of England at the time. Horn does a decent job of setting the political and sociological stage of the late 16th century and the players involved; the relationship of Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth, John White and his struggle against whim and bureaucracy to put together a rescue voyage in the middle of countries at war; the war between England and Spain; Captain John Smith's claimed attempts to find out what happened to the people of Roanoke Island. Still though, despite all the claimed evidence by people like Smith (who was a notorious bragger in his memoirs), you have to wonder if some of the witness testimony claimed by Europeans are valid or just generating Tall Tales for the history books. Ultimately there is no real solid evidence (so far) of what exactly happened (Horn speculates the whole dang mystery in the last 5 or six pages), and anyone who knows the story already will not find much revelation here, although it IS a good book that puts it all in one place in an approachable narrative. A decent read, but I would really like to see a more archeological book be published on the subject, much like Dr. William Kelso's book Jamestown: the Buried Truth.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ☯Emily Ginder

    This book is about the lost English colony at Roanoke. James Horn gives the historic background for the establishment of the colony, emphasizing the role Walter Ralegh played in its beginning. It was to be a base for the English to attack Spanish ships as they crossed the Atlantic from South America. The settlers were to provide needed raw goods to England and in their spare time look for gold and silver and a passage to the Pacific. They were dropped off, began to settle on the land and waited This book is about the lost English colony at Roanoke. James Horn gives the historic background for the establishment of the colony, emphasizing the role Walter Ralegh played in its beginning. It was to be a base for the English to attack Spanish ships as they crossed the Atlantic from South America. The settlers were to provide needed raw goods to England and in their spare time look for gold and silver and a passage to the Pacific. They were dropped off, began to settle on the land and waited for much needed food and supplies. However, these never arrived because the Spanish decided it was time to invade England. After the Spanish Armada was destroyed, there were a series of mishaps that prevented any ships to arrive at the small colony. The last chapter deals with several theories of what happened to the English settlers. I found the book to have lots of speculation and not solid facts, but again there are not a lot of facts to go on...that is why it is one of America's mysteries.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lynette

    This book was exceedingly thorough, to the point of sometimes feeling tangential. It was a bit annoying that the lost colony didn't really come into the story until almost 150 pages in - I almost lost interest. However, I feel that Horn absolutely did his research; all of the seemingly inconsequential information that he supplies us with eventually does come into play as support for his theories as to what happened to the colonists. For as thorough as this book was, it never got too dry. There we This book was exceedingly thorough, to the point of sometimes feeling tangential. It was a bit annoying that the lost colony didn't really come into the story until almost 150 pages in - I almost lost interest. However, I feel that Horn absolutely did his research; all of the seemingly inconsequential information that he supplies us with eventually does come into play as support for his theories as to what happened to the colonists. For as thorough as this book was, it never got too dry. There were times when it started to head in that direction, but at the last minute, some really interesting information was revealed. I'd say that if you're struggling with this book early on, skip ahead to chapter 4, "A City on the Bay". That's really where the story of the lost colony starts, even though you won't meet the colonists for another 20 pages.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terri R

    The title is definitely accurate. What were Elizabethans thinking when they sent people out to colonize without teaching them how to survive? I borrowed this book from the library on a recommendation from a nice lady at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and it has definitely quenched my thirst about the Lost Colony. Because the author pieced together innumerable historical sources and accounts, it requires patience and perhaps a little imagination to enjoy. I give it 3 stars for scholarsh The title is definitely accurate. What were Elizabethans thinking when they sent people out to colonize without teaching them how to survive? I borrowed this book from the library on a recommendation from a nice lady at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and it has definitely quenched my thirst about the Lost Colony. Because the author pieced together innumerable historical sources and accounts, it requires patience and perhaps a little imagination to enjoy. I give it 3 stars for scholarship.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dawn King

    Theories about the fate of North Carolina's Lost Colony can be deary or fascinating. Many just dredge up old stories. This book makes a compelling case for sabotage and intrigue within Queen Elizabeth's court. Sir Walter Raleigh's political enemies may have planted a saboteur to make sure the colony did not land well and got off to a poor start. This book was well written and researched. It is in my library on NC history. Theories about the fate of North Carolina's Lost Colony can be deary or fascinating. Many just dredge up old stories. This book makes a compelling case for sabotage and intrigue within Queen Elizabeth's court. Sir Walter Raleigh's political enemies may have planted a saboteur to make sure the colony did not land well and got off to a poor start. This book was well written and researched. It is in my library on NC history.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This could have been several chapter shorter and you wouldn't have lost much information. If you pick this book up, you're more interested in the colonists and what happened to them than what Sir Walter is having for breakfast in 1682. The ending was satisfying; it's just getting to that point that is frustrating. That and I noticed several typos that made my brain ache. That pictures of all the old maps were cool though. This could have been several chapter shorter and you wouldn't have lost much information. If you pick this book up, you're more interested in the colonists and what happened to them than what Sir Walter is having for breakfast in 1682. The ending was satisfying; it's just getting to that point that is frustrating. That and I noticed several typos that made my brain ache. That pictures of all the old maps were cool though.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy (Bent Bookworm)

    Very interesting and seems well-researched, with copious footnotes and a good timeline. It's very much a history though, so don't pick it up expecting a run-down of the various theories of what happened to the Roanoke colony (what I originally thought when I bought it, only later reading the *history* part of the title). Very interesting and seems well-researched, with copious footnotes and a good timeline. It's very much a history though, so don't pick it up expecting a run-down of the various theories of what happened to the Roanoke colony (what I originally thought when I bought it, only later reading the *history* part of the title).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eve

    Although it doesn't really shed light on the Roanoke mystery, it us a fascinating account of planting America. Although it doesn't really shed light on the Roanoke mystery, it us a fascinating account of planting America.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eric Smith

    On August 16, 1590, John White stepped ashore on Roanoke Island. He had left his friends and comrades, including his daughter and grand-daughter, three years before to seek additional support for the colony from its English backers. His return trip was delayed by war with Spain, double-crossing privateers, hurricanes, and ill-luck. What he found on that summer day was what he feared – the colony was gone, seemingly vanished with only the word “CROATOAN” carved into a tree as a clue. This much of On August 16, 1590, John White stepped ashore on Roanoke Island. He had left his friends and comrades, including his daughter and grand-daughter, three years before to seek additional support for the colony from its English backers. His return trip was delayed by war with Spain, double-crossing privateers, hurricanes, and ill-luck. What he found on that summer day was what he feared – the colony was gone, seemingly vanished with only the word “CROATOAN” carved into a tree as a clue. This much of the story matched what I had learned in school. James Horn, in “A Kingdom Strange, The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke” fills in all the gaps and solves the mystery. Along the way, his narrative is gripping and reads like an adventure novel. It’s the best kind of history writing, filled with characters who come alive, swept along by grand currents and seeking to navigate their way through happenstance and tragedy towards improbable success. Horn begins with Sir Walter Raleigh’s first efforts to establish an outpost in North America as a base for legalized piracy against the Spanish. These attempts fell prey to disease, inadequate provisioning, squabbling, and a tragic ignorance when it came to dealing with the native peoples. Raleigh eventually realized that if he were going to have a self-sustaining outpost capable of plundering the Spanish treasure fleets, then he needed settler families and a better location. The colony planned to reposition to the Chesapeake Bay, a better harborage with more access to the interior than the previous location on Roanoke Island, but weather and the lottery-like opportunity to catch a Spanish ship before the end of the season caused them to stop short and build a temporary settlement on Roanoke. Their new colony, on the foundations of the old outpost, couldn’t escape the past and violent confrontations with the natives combined with the less-than-optimal location drove them to send their leader, John White, back to England for additional support. Horn never forgets that history is made by people making decisions based on what information they have and he doesn’t use hindsight to criticize his characters. The unfolding fate of the colony takes on the aspect of a Greek tragedy. We, the readers know the outcome, but the colonists do not. And we cannot help but to cheer them on, to encourage their success against what we know has already happened. This book is a detective story, historical narrative, and family tragedy wrapped up into one tale. There’s no need to fill your rucksack with different flavors of books this summer – they are all here. And all those lingering questions from elementary school are finally answered.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    A National Park Ranger recommended this book while we were doing a car trip up the eastern coast. We learned of the Lost Colony of Roanoke- a British colonial settlement that predated Jamestown. Sir Walter Ralegh wanted to establish a colony in North America - as a challenge to the land claims primarily of the Spanish. Further, he felt that the presence of a strong British seaport would bring riches to England - natural goods of the New Land in trade with Europe. Probably more importantly, he wan A National Park Ranger recommended this book while we were doing a car trip up the eastern coast. We learned of the Lost Colony of Roanoke- a British colonial settlement that predated Jamestown. Sir Walter Ralegh wanted to establish a colony in North America - as a challenge to the land claims primarily of the Spanish. Further, he felt that the presence of a strong British seaport would bring riches to England - natural goods of the New Land in trade with Europe. Probably more importantly, he wanted the British presence to pirate the Spanish ships along the coast. Plus, rumors were that inland from what is now North Carolina - there were great mines of gold, copper, even diamonds. Ralegh sent John White in 1587 to Roanoke with 118 English men, women and children - and supplies to establish the first British settlement. Survival was hard as the settlers fought against the waring Indian tribes in the area . As their supplies dwindled, White promised to sail to England to bring back more settlers, goods to trade, food stuffs, guns, etc. He expected to be back within the year. White left Roanoke in 1588; he did not return until 1590. When he returned, the entire colony of Roanoke and all of its settlers had disappeared. Horn's book is factual yet reads like an exciting historical adventure story. Some parts of the mysterious disappearance have been revealed by time and research; much of the story is still surmised.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anson Cassel Mills

    Horn has here presented the general educated reader with a nicely researched and lucidly written account of the Lost Colony, taking us beyond sensationalist theories about the 16th-century disappearance to explain the military, political, and economic reasons why English colonists were deposited at Roanoke in the first place and then so summarily abandoned thereafter. Horn’s reconstruction of the historical background makes the crooked straight and the rough places plain. The author’s own researc Horn has here presented the general educated reader with a nicely researched and lucidly written account of the Lost Colony, taking us beyond sensationalist theories about the 16th-century disappearance to explain the military, political, and economic reasons why English colonists were deposited at Roanoke in the first place and then so summarily abandoned thereafter. Horn’s reconstruction of the historical background makes the crooked straight and the rough places plain. The author’s own research contribution was an investigation of the colonists’ place of origin and their possible interconnections. I was fascinated by his suggestion that a number of the settlers might have been Puritans. (What might have been the Calvinist state of mind once the abandoned realized they would never again fellowship with fellow believers?) Likewise intriguing is Horn’s suggestion that the founding of Jamestown itself might have sealed the doom of the survivors. Though I personally would have enjoyed a chapter on the fakes and frauds later perpetrated in the name of the Lost Colony, Horn’s book nicely achieves his own objectives.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Flowers

    Everyone has heard on some level the mystery that is/was the lost colony of Roanoke. Historian James Horn does a fantastic job weaving said story that is thick with historical data, names dates places and based on the available evidence very justifiable theories. I was actually surprised by how much i didn't know. And the theory of what happened to the colonists seem very believable. The most haunting part of the book is imagining being one of those people, sailing across to a new world basicall Everyone has heard on some level the mystery that is/was the lost colony of Roanoke. Historian James Horn does a fantastic job weaving said story that is thick with historical data, names dates places and based on the available evidence very justifiable theories. I was actually surprised by how much i didn't know. And the theory of what happened to the colonists seem very believable. The most haunting part of the book is imagining being one of those people, sailing across to a new world basically. Establishing a colony. Having a plan and clear expectations of what should have happened. Sending the only ship available to sail across the ocean and your leader back to England, waiting on him to return, but then as the months and years and decades pass hope dwindles and the sense of claustrophobia sets in with the surrounding unknown of the wilderness and the local native population.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Franchesca

    A Kingdom Strange provided a decent overview of the Roanoke colony without fault but lacked the consideration of the reader's time. I’d hope to view a detailed description of the Roanoke colony with diary entries or a recollection of events that happened within the colony. There were many dull moments within the plot and didn't seem to reach a climax. I would only recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of England’s series of voyages or searching for a greater understanding of th A Kingdom Strange provided a decent overview of the Roanoke colony without fault but lacked the consideration of the reader's time. I’d hope to view a detailed description of the Roanoke colony with diary entries or a recollection of events that happened within the colony. There were many dull moments within the plot and didn't seem to reach a climax. I would only recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of England’s series of voyages or searching for a greater understanding of the development of Europe's history. The ending was a dime, reading up to how eventually all the expenses and work Raleigh put into these expeditions eventually wound up to unexpected opportunities was interesting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gary Schantz

    This is one of my many, many reads to learn all of American history so I can be a bit critical as to whether books are thorough enough to leave me with a good understanding of a particular subject matter. This is a good book that explains how the Roanoke colony was founded, who funded it, why it was created to begin with and what possibly became of it. So how was it lost? After reading this book, I concluded that the Lost Colony of Roanoke is more myth than a mystery. It was simply disbanded over This is one of my many, many reads to learn all of American history so I can be a bit critical as to whether books are thorough enough to leave me with a good understanding of a particular subject matter. This is a good book that explains how the Roanoke colony was founded, who funded it, why it was created to begin with and what possibly became of it. So how was it lost? After reading this book, I concluded that the Lost Colony of Roanoke is more myth than a mystery. It was simply disbanded over time and the people (after waiting three years) dispersed believing that no one was going to come back for them.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Having just finished the wonderful Horwitz book (A Voyage Long and Strange...Early America), I was ready to immerse myself in this era. Unfortunately, this book was too full of irrelevant detail, side notes, "maybe"s, "perhaps" and "probably"s. It was more geography and European history than I expected or wanted. There were also at least 2 typos- the month and year are squished together at least twice. One of these is on page 195 of the pb edition. Disappointing read, in my opinion. Having just finished the wonderful Horwitz book (A Voyage Long and Strange...Early America), I was ready to immerse myself in this era. Unfortunately, this book was too full of irrelevant detail, side notes, "maybe"s, "perhaps" and "probably"s. It was more geography and European history than I expected or wanted. There were also at least 2 typos- the month and year are squished together at least twice. One of these is on page 195 of the pb edition. Disappointing read, in my opinion.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lucille Haden

    A very interesting read. I borrowed it from the library out of curiosity and for research on a personal project. I'm not a history critic, so I don't feel I can really go into a lot of detail here. However, I can say, the only thing that stood out to me as a negative and why I didn't give it 5 stars, is because I felt there were multiple times that the author's accounts broke with fact and entered the realm of speculation. A very interesting read. I borrowed it from the library out of curiosity and for research on a personal project. I'm not a history critic, so I don't feel I can really go into a lot of detail here. However, I can say, the only thing that stood out to me as a negative and why I didn't give it 5 stars, is because I felt there were multiple times that the author's accounts broke with fact and entered the realm of speculation.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah A.

    The world is a strange place indeed, and history is fascinating. This is the story of the "lost colony" of Roanoke and the beginnings of English Rule on the New Continent. What I found most amazing was the bitter rivalry between England and Spain, which really seemed to be about Catholicism versus Protestantism and the desire for power. This was an excellent ready--easy and simple with a clear claim and explanations. Absolutely brought history and knowledge to life. The world is a strange place indeed, and history is fascinating. This is the story of the "lost colony" of Roanoke and the beginnings of English Rule on the New Continent. What I found most amazing was the bitter rivalry between England and Spain, which really seemed to be about Catholicism versus Protestantism and the desire for power. This was an excellent ready--easy and simple with a clear claim and explanations. Absolutely brought history and knowledge to life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Genni

    There was nothing inherently wrong with this book concerning information. It was just so simply written that I wondered if perhaps it was geared for young readers and I was unaware of that when I picked it up. Aside from that possibility, this is one about Roanoke you could skip. I give it two stars because there certainly are worse things one could read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Excellent account of Roanoke Thorough and sometimes meandering but gives excellent context and is extremely well-researched. A perfect overview for anyone interested in the story of Roanoke.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Yuliya Astapova

    It was interesting to read about all the background events going on that impacted the colony and its people, but I feel like I could have read the last 30 pages to get the speculation about what happened to them without sitting through the (kind of tedious) preamble.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Hoffman

    While only about 1/3 of the book is directly about the history of the Roanoke colony itself, the associated events it covers add to the story, including several working theories at the end as to what happened to the colony settlers and the evidence to back it up as was then known.

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