The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James

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The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James

Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention american early historical deans virginia war jamestown civil sentences americans area native pages bob interested writes richmond lincoln slaves readable. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I had just completed the kindle version as I was finishing out paddling the entire length of the James River by canoe and kayak. I was able to relate the places mentioned in the book as I completed my own journey. Book is not what title suggests.

It is more a history of Virginia through the Civil War. As that it is adequate. Yes, some of the writing in the early chapters read like somebody got a new thesaurus for Christmas and lacks writing discipline. He spendsa good deal of time talking about slavery, but how could he not? All in all, he is of the historical status quo, and there are no great insights here. One person found this helpful. I grew up in Richmond, VA which is on the James. When she would flood, I could hear her roar from our house. That river is magnificient and to me. This book romances that river and brings her to life..

For someone who is a member of the Jamestowne Society, this was an extremely interesting book.

Jamestown: Where America Began (Part 1)

I learned much about the area, the history of the people and even about the Burgesses of the time. One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. Wanted a bigger over view of what was going on when Jamestowne was first settled. A great history book written in a very readable style. It talks about the complicated issues of the settlers, native Americans and the African American slaves on the wealthy plantations.

I have been unable to read this book because of the extremely small print. My book club will not be able to read it since we are all in our eighties.

The River Where America Began

It is Kindle for me for now on so I can make the print larger. This history book was very informative. I was born in the area.

Honestly, it's a miracle that things worked out the way it did. Jamestown was a corporate enterprise, one that failed abysmally - there was no gold, nor was there silver or a passage to the Pacific, which is what the Virginia Company wanted.

A Journey Along the James

Instead of working on, you know, growing food and building a stable community, the settlers were charged with looking for resources that just weren't there. By the time tobacco was grown as a cash crop, the Virginia Company was as good as dead and the whole thing had to be taken over by the King. Still, a few people got rich, and the governing body of the Virginia colony - the House of Burgesses - was pretty much a rich mens' club, where the wealthy landowners did they best to stay wealthy. And then there were the Indians. What a cock-up that was. For all that the "romantic" story of Pocahontas captured peoples' hearts and minds, the promise of an Indian-English union was never to be.

They tried, for a given value of "try," but they were doomed to failure. For his part, John Smith approached the natives, whose ancestors had been occupying the land for tens of thousands of years, like they were simple savages. The colonists came to land that wasn't theirs and refused to deal with the Indians as equals, deciding instead to start from the position that they were superior and that Powhatan and his people had to be bent to their will.

For his part, Powhatan was perhaps too trusting. He wanted to believe that his people and the English could coexist, and gave them more chances than they probably deserved.

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Neither side wanted to compromise or to truly understand the other, and so there was only one outcome - death, destruction and despair. Which brings us to the slaves. The first enslaved Africans came on a Dutch ship that grounded on Point Comfort, near the mouth of the James. With a little bit of doublethink and a healthy heaping of racism and paternalism, the colonists realized that slaves could be really helpful, especially with all that tobacco to harvest. And so the infamous slave trade began, transporting millions of slaves across the Atlantic to the colonies. I don't think I need to really say "Slavery is bad.

What was interesting was the mental gymnastics that had to be done to keep slavery going. For example, Deans notes that there was a debate about how converting the Africans to Christianity would affect their bondage - it would be un-Christian, after all, to enslave other Christians.

Easy - the legislature decreed that Christianity was no bar to slavery for the Africans working in the fields. The settlers, I think, knew what they were doing was wrong, but the slaves were just too useful and the colonists' prejudices were too deeply ingrained. Eventually slave owners would be given the liberty to hunt slaves like animals, even to their deaths. It set a flaw in American history that is still visible today.

There was an interesting passage, regarding the War for Independence. The British were offering freedom to any slave who left his owners to fight on the side of the Redcoats. At the same time, the leaders of the rebellious colonies were offering a slave to people who enlisted in the Colonial army. Four years after Jefferson laid the cornerstone of American independence on the foundation that "all men are created equal," a militiaman fighting for that very principle could march into battle with the words "Liberty or Death" emblazoned across his chest and expect Jefferson's own government to give him in return cash, land, and the lifetime service of another human being, who could be beaten, worked to death, or sold like a dog.

A colony impregnated at its birth with slavery, Virginia had reduced itself to offering slaves as an incentive for white Americans battling for freedom, even as their British foes dangled the promise of liberty in front of blacks willing to fight on behalf of the crown that had chartered the company that had enslaved them for profit. Both sides called it democracy Deans ends the book with a look at where we are today, and draws the readers' attention to the current conflict in Iraq, where he leads us to an interesting point. Four hundred years ago, our forefathers came into a land that was not theirs, promised peace with the natives of that land, but not on their terms.

Refusing to understand the culture, the history or the values of the people they were dealing with, the Jamestown colonists, confident in their own superiority, insisted that the Indians become more like them. The mistreatment of the Native Americans is one of the great stains on American history, and one would think that it could have been easy to prevent, hindsight being what it is.

Will we do the same thing in the Middle East? It looks like we are, which depresses me immensely. We may not be able to go back in time to seventeenth-century Jamestown, to tell John Smith that he needs to deal with Powhatan as an equal, not a savage, but we can use that lesson now.

We can remember what a colossal failure that turned out to be, and not do it again. If you're interested in early American history, it's a good read. The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James eBook: Bob Deans: Kindle Store

Nov 02, Alison rated it liked it. I just moved to a town along the James River, so I picked this up to read some history about the area. While I agree with some of the other reviews stating the beginning was a bit slow and verbose, the rest of the book was incredibly interesting and informative. I loved that Deans didn't give a year-by-year account but rather major event-by-major event.

This was not a typical history book, which was refreshing to read, but it still enlightened me into many moments in history I had little knowled I just moved to a town along the James River, so I picked this up to read some history about the area. This was not a typical history book, which was refreshing to read, but it still enlightened me into many moments in history I had little knowledge of; particularly of John Smith's pre-America years.

I'm inspired to read more about the infamous man who helped settle Virginia. Undimmed by Human Tears Bibliography. The James is America's river. It witnessed the birth of English-speaking America in and the 'new birth of freedom' ushered in by Union victory in the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln's dramatic visit to the fallen Confederate capital of Richmond on April 4, Bob Deans' eloquent narrative does full justice to the story both tragic and majestic of this historic river.

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An inspiring story of America and its unique struggle to become a great nation. With the eye of a fine journalist and the heart of a native Virginian, Bob Deans has made an engaging human drama of the great river's history, from Pocahontas and John Smith to Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln.

It's a compelling read. This book is the work of a superb journalist, and also a masterful storyteller. In Bob Deans' unsparing and riveting narrative, we really get to know characters like Captain John Smith and Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, and understand why we wouldn't be who we are if they hadn't been who they were. His succession of stories brims with drama and vignettes of famous and not-so-famous people.