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Love and Hate in Jamestown

John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New Nation


David A. Price (View Bio)
Hardcover: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003; Trade Paperback: Vintage, 2005.

Love and Hate in Jamestown

In 1606, approximately 105 British colonists sailed to America, seeking gold and a trade route to the Pacific. Instead, they found disease, hunger, and hostile natives. Ill prepared for such hardship, the men responded with incompetence and infighting; only the leadership of Captain John Smith averted doom for the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

The Jamestown colony is one of the great survival stories of American history, and this book brings it fully to life for the first time. Drawing on extensive original documents, David A. Price paints intimate portraits of the major figures from the formidable monarch Chief Powhatan, to the resourceful but unpopular leader John Smith, to the spirited Pocahontas, who twice saved Smith’s life. He also gives a rare balanced view of relations between the settlers and the natives and debunks popular myths about the colony. This is a superb work of history, reminding us of the horrors and heroism that marked the dawning of our nation.

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"Using a wide range of primary and secondary sources, the author presents an interesting account of the first decades of the first English colony in America as it struggled so survive war and famine. Smith and the Indian princess are the central characters, but Price creates memorable sketches of many key leaders, both English and Native American.... Although based on extensive research, this volume reads like a novel.... [Price] certainly captures the drama surrounding the founding of Virginia and the pathos of the cultural confrontation between the English and the Indians." — History

"The story David Price tells so lucidly in LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN is far more complicated than the popular tale.... Price has mined British records as well and the letters and journals of the colonists to provide a compelling account of Jamestown's early years.... A splendid book." — Christian Science Monitor

"The Jamestown story is splendidly realized in this new book by journalist David A. Price. While his account is firmly grounded in original sources, particularly Smith's own vivid accounts, and in later scholarship, it has the immediacy of contemporary journalism.... By teasing out the themes of love and hate, Price has given the Jamestown story a contemporary freshness." — Boston Globe

"Remember the American history lessons you learned as a child, of brave heroes overcoming tremendous odds? And how many of those tales were diluted in college by revisionist historians? LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN redeems one story of America's origin, without which the rest may never have happened. David Price traces the development of the first British settlement in the New World, through occasional triumph and frequent hardship.... Price introduces readers to a variety of compelling characters, from aristocratic colonials to the Indian tribes led by Pocahontas's father, Chief Powhatan. The natives emerge as both cautious allies and admirable adversaries.... How might the New World have evolved had Jamestown failed? Simply put, without one selfless act from a 12-year-old Indian princess, we'd probably be speaking French or Spanish today." — Cowboys & Indians

"Price's well-researched book skillfully weaves together period letters and historical documents into a narrative and is an engaging and detailed account of the many lives that clashed during the founding of Virginia." — U.S. News & World Report

"Price puts the first settlement back where it belongs: at the center of the American story.... Prices book is beautifully written and an authentic page turner.... The scholarship is unassailable but not oppressive.... Anyone who wants to understand the United States must consider that first colony — and David Price's book is a good place to start." — National Review Online

"Price has digested the most recent scholarship on early Virginia, then filtered it through his instincts as a storyteller to create the most historically correct and stylistically elegant rendering of John Smith and Pocahontas that I have ever read." — Joseph Ellis, author of FOUNDING BROTHERS

"Price clears away the misconceptions and sugar-coated half-truths to reveal the true story of the Virginia Colony — and what a story it is! — full of drama, tragedy, and heartbreak.... The virtues of this book are many, not the least Price's portrait of John Smith, who was not only 'the life and soul of the colony,' but in his way, the first real American. He recognized in the New World its two greatest potential attributes: personal mobility and liberty. With the quadricentennial of Jamestown's founding coming in 2007, LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN is not only timely. It is also 'must reading' for anyone who would understand what really happened during those perilous days when the very survival of our new country was at stake." — Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Price catches the daily drama in the struggle for survival and troubled relations among the settlement's leaders and their Native American counterparts..... Giving a straightforward narrative of the early Virginians...[and] portraying Smith as ‘Machiavellian,' one who knew how to use power and was a master of deceit.... Recommended." — Choice

"One might wonder what would inspire a reporter for Investor's Business Daily to write again about the old and hackneyed tale of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, the Indian princess.... As it turns out, a boyhood in Richmond, Virginia, was likely enough to do the trick, making the Jamestown tale just a bit of local history. It is significant local history, nonetheless, and a microcosm within which to consider the implications of Europeans upon this continent." — Santa Fe New Mexican

"No-one knows whether Pocahontas rescued John Smith twice, or even once. We only have Smith's vividly written word for some of it, though recent scholarship suggest he was an honest recorder of his own life and doings and contemporaries obviously overcame their suspicion of the brash Lincolnshire yokel and trusted him implicitly. Smith is substantially redrawn in David A. Price's account.... Price brings these times to vivid life. There should be no conflict between popular history and historical accuracy and every detail of LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN is carefully contextualised. It may be archetypally American to print the legend when legend and facts are in conflict. Here, though, the facts are much more interesting and alive." — Sunday Herald (Scotland)

"In this impeccably researched and very able retelling of the early years of the Jamestown colony in Virginia, David Price interleaves economic and social history with an examination of the most famous North American legend.... Historians have affected to disbelieve the famous story and have suggested that Smith was a fantasist, or that he mistook his adoption ceremony for incineration. Price has no truck with either theory, and his arguments are convincing. There really was a sentimental attachment between Smith and Pocahontas, although not a carnal one.... The intersection of the Jamestown story with the careers of Smith and Pocahontas makes a fascinating narrative, and Price has done it full justice." — The Independent (London)

"In a rousing tale of the early years of Jamestown, David A. Price rescues Pocahontas and the Virginia settlement from Hollywood cartons as deftly as the young princess may have saved Captain John Smith from execution by her father, the great Powhatan." — Jon Kukla, author of A WILDERNESS SO IMMENSE

"If you do only one thing this week...discover the real story of John Smith and Pocahontas. Disney made a film about the legendary love affair between the English mercenary and the Native American princess and Peggy Lee immortalised them in 'Fever.' However, as readers of David Prices gripping LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN find out in the first few pages, although she saved his life on two occasions, Smith and Pocahontas were never actually lovers." — Irish Independent

"I figured I had a hand on a handle on that early period of our national history. Then I read LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN.... Suddenly, in approximately 250 fast-paced pages, those people from history sprang to life, the time they lived in became vivid, and hundred of years of change dissolved from my mind's picture of the places they popluated all around here in the first decades of the 1600s. Interesting people? Political intrigue? Military gamesmanship? Physical courage? Violence? Inspired and inspiring leadership? Stupidity? The Jamestown story, which is arguably the story of our country's establishment, bubbles with them all." — Richmond Times-Dispatch

"How much of the story about both Smith and Pocahontas is historical fact? A lively new book answers that question and many others about this fascinating period of American history. David Price, a reporter and historian, has sifted through period letters and documents to reveal a tale of extremes — cowardice and courage, stupidity and brilliance, tragedy and triumph. This is solid historic reporting that reveals the compelling story of how a British sea captain became nothing less than a publicist for North America and helped write the early history of our country." — Arizona Citizen

"How much of the story about both Smith and Pocahontas is historic fact? A lively new book answers that question and many others about this fascinating period of American history. David Price, a reporter and historian, has sifted through period letters and documents to reveal a tale of extremes — cowardice and courage, stupidity and brilliance, tragedy and triumph. This is solid historic reporting that reveals the compelling story of how a British sea captain became nothing less than a publicist for North America and helped write the early history of our country." — Tucson Citizen

"For those general readers who wish to move beyond the myths and obtain a better understanding of them and the early years of the colony, this book will be an enjoyable and valuable tool. Price...brings considerable flair to the telling of a familiar story, and he offers some interesting perspectives on both Smith and Pocahontas.... Price...describes in vivid detail the precarious and brutal existence of life in Jamestown when the physical survival of the colonists was by no means certain." — Booklist

"English America was a corporation before it was a country,' David A. Price explains in his solid and engaging new history of Jamestown, the first English-speaking colony in North America that managed to survive. Since Price was a business reporter before he turned historian, a reader might expect him to expatiate on how capitalism shaped Jamestown and on the inspiring business model chosen by the Virginia Company, which raised the money to start it.... Price focuses instead on the human story of Jamestown, nearly mythic in its resonances, and he interprets it not with economics but with political philosophy." — The New York Times Book Review

"Early word on LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN by David Price says this view of colonial America is a page-turner." — Salon.com

"Drawing on examinations of original documents and previous research, journalist Price has written an engrossing history of the founding and development of Jamestown.... Highly recommended." — Library Journal

"David Price has done something really remarkable in LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN. He has connected this 400 year old story to American identity and made it moving as well as meaningful." — Thomas Fleming, author of THE ILLUSION OF VICTORY

"David A. Price has written a fresh history.... The extraordinarily well-written book reads like a drama-packed novel and, though comprehensive, it is mercifully short at 247 pages. In keeping his book brief, Price has not only made it accessible, he has condensed the first two decades of Virginia history into a brief tract that necessarily recounts only the most gripping and significant colonial adventures and misadentures." — Virginia Beach Portfolio Weekly

"Combining a gift for storytelling with meticulous scholarship, historian David A. Price sorts reality from legend in his splendid new book.... This engrossing narrative of the settlement and Smith's role in it is superbly done." — BookPage

"Before there was an America, before there was a state of Virginia, even before Plymouth Rock, there was a stubby little man who planted the seed of what this New World might become. John Smith of the Virginia Company, the proto-American New Man, is scrupulously brought to life by David A. Price in LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN. Smith's story and that of the Jamestown venture, an underappreciated piece of American history, epitomize the transformation of old Europe's class-based society into a primitive kind of meritocracy.... Price has re-created a figure to whom this nation owes a debt.... Price's Jamestown reminds us that the American Dream existed in the hearts of men before the United States was born." — Dallas Morning News

"A superb narrative of the founding of the first colony, which manages to connect the old story to American identity in 2003. It is also remarkably evenhanded in its treatment of the whites and the Indians." — Thomas Fleming, New York Sun

"A stylishly written, authoritative retelling of the opening of the first permanent English settlement in the New World." — Harvard Magazine

"A richly flavored, fascinating narrative of the first two decades of the Jamestown settlement. Price has drawn on a wealth of primary sources, but the details don't interrupt the flow of the story.... [Price] provides intriguing portraits of the new colonists.... Although reliable information about Pocahontas is incomplete, Price's depiction of the bright, compassionate princess is warm and admiring. Smith's return to England to recover from an injury resulted in disaster for Jamestown. The inexperienced former courtiers made incredible errors that led to the Starving Time and massacres. The author describes these horrific events in graphic detail." — School Library Journal

"A first-rate work of popular history, and sure to become a standard." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Price begins LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation by setting the time, 1606, with a perspective we can understand. Contemporaries of the rugged — if short — John Smith and the bright, youthful and amazingly resourceful Pocahontas were Galileo, Ieyasu Tokugawa (Japan's first Shogun), Rembrandt, King James (and the guys who translated a Bible for him) and a hotshot writer named Shakespeare. This is a marvelously accessible book about an oddball group — even an ill conceived gathering of ‘explorers' — who began the settlement of our country. They had nearly everything against them, including training, disposition, disease, starvation, attitude and the harsh nature of the wilderness into which they landed. The Indians didn't like them and many of them — rich boys on holiday — had no clue about surviving.... Price tells a good story, tells it directly and avoids academic writing to the degree that he can. It's a good book about a fascinating time and some absorbing people." — Blue Ridge Business Journal

"[Price] offers an account of heroic John Smith and the first permanent English settlement in America that is not only intellectually palatable, but also a juicy feast of compelling storytelling.... Price has produced a meticulously researched volume on the settling of North America that scans in the imagination like a motion picture. LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN deserves an honored spot in any history buff's library. It would be delightful to see Price attempt more books about American history." — Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"[An] admirable new history of the Jamestown colony.... The Pocahontas-John Smith story is one of our most famous and most fictionalized.... The truth is more interesting.... A fine book, LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN, one that personifies the virtues I esteem in a work of popular history: clarity, intelligence, grace, novelty and brevity." — San Jose Mercury News

"When a historian offers an engrossing tale that literally bears the ring of authenticity, the effort spent reading the account is time well spent. It is even more convincing when you realize that he is telling you what really happened in a story you think you already know. David A. Price has done such work with his LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN.... He has clearly gone to great, indeed comprehensive, lengths to consult the actual records. His quotations are just that. His interpretations of events are not only convincing, but specifically, painstakingly documented. He has perused literally all existing records, letters, articles, manuscripts, shipping accounts, slavery files, and other accounts to bring us the real story of the complex first years of the colony.... Price has given us a valuable study that is not only readable and thoroughly documented, but does what few historians succeed in doing. He shows us that real people, whom we come to believe we can understand, lived, made these decisions, and were our forebears. War, genuine respect, curiosity, hatred, even love, are characterized in the very words and events related here. This is, perhaps, one of the finest books of history this reviewer has read. I highly recommend it." — The Decatur Daily

"This sparkling book retells a beloved tale in modern terms. Journalist Price's subtitle suggests that the book might be only about John Smith and Pocahontas — who 'crossed into one another's cultures more than any other Englishman or native woman had done' — as well as about Pocahontas's eventual husband, John Rolfe. Fortunately, the book ranges more widely than that. Price relates the entire riveting story of the founding of Virginia. Smith is of course at the center of the tale, because rarely did a colonial leader so bountifully combine experience, insight, vision, strength of character and leadership skills to overcome extraordinary odds. But no one will come away from this work without heightened admiration also for the natives, especially Chief Powhatan, and greater knowledge of the introduction of a third people, the African slaves, into the Chesapeake.... A splendid work of serious narrative history." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A scrupulously researched retelling of what the keywords in his title and subtitle imply. The intersection of courageous John Smith and heroic Pocahontas is vintage American myth, and Price captures their relationship in a relatively unromanticized and objective manner. Similarly, he exposes the flaws of those feckless 'gentlemen' who established Jamestown.... One cannot help being impressed by the depth and breadth of Price's knowledge, particularly about John Smith, and by his convincing presentation of Smith as an intelligent, principled, canny, determined individual who overcame the 'disadvantage' (in the eyes of the avaricious, mendacious, and egotistical aristocrats who employed him) of being born 'just one rung above peasanthood,' a person whose pragmatic leadership epitomized generations of subsequent democratic colonizers, the true heart — and soul — of the new American nation." — Philadelphia Inquirer

"Scholars and lovers of history, take note. Don't be put off by the title of David Price's excellent new account of the Jamestown colony and the levelheaded soldier who, above all others, ensured its survival.... Price, who holds degrees from Harvard, Cambridge, and the College of William and Mary in Virginia, tells the story straight. The unvarnished record in packed with best-selling elements: greed, arrogance, intrigue, valor, stupidity, torture and cruelties of the worst sort, as well as valor, suspense, and cataclysmic tragedy. Then there is that remarkable relationship between John Smith and Pocahontas, favorite daughter of the Indian chief Powhatan.... Price interweaves all these elements with a graceful, reportorial style that never forgets the humanity of the individuals involved.... John Smith once had a much higher profile in U.S. history, revered in the same light as the Founding Fathers and the framers of the Constitution. LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN reminds us of the station Smith once held.... Price's book makes an excellent case for pulling Smith from the dusty corners of American history and restoring him to glory.... LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN presents an excellent counter to pop culture's fixation on so-called reality television programming. The passages describing the horrific Starving Time or the vivisection of a captured Englishman surpass 'Survivor' and 'Fear Factor' in their ability to rivet one's attention. Middle- and high- school teachers of English and history should read them aloud to students. The lessons are many. Most readers will find the book equally engaging for other reasons. LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN has the potential to do for Capt. John Smith what UNDAUNTED COURAGE by the late Stephen Ambrose did for Lewis and Clark: rekindle appreciation for our history among a new generation of Americans, and deservedly so." — Orlando Sentinel

"Jamestown in Virginia, that is, from the landfall of European economic migrants in 1606, determined not to founder and fail as had the Roanoke settlement of the 1580s. They made it, but only just; the first 40 years were a woeful chronicle of competent leaders demoted and incompetent promoted by shareholders back in England, of aristo sloth and inter-settler strife, besides the mutual treacheries and butcheries of Native American-colonial confrontations. Price is scrupulous about both sides, and his John Smith and Pocahontas portraits unromanticised. His wry asides are full of unrealised American futures: what if the subgroup shipwrecked in the Bermudas had stayed there, living high on the wild hogs, and not struggled on to support the few Virginians who had survived starvation? What if John Rolfe had heeded James I's advice to raise mulberry-fed silkworms or grow wine vines, rather than make tobacco the colony cash crop?" — The Guardian (London)

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