While disease, famine and continuing attacks took a toll on the population, there were times when the Powhatan Indian trade revived the colony with food.
While disease, famine and continuing attacks took a toll on the population, there were times when the Powhatan Indian trade revived the colony with food.
Jamestown (1609)/MPI/Getty Images
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American Schemers

Americans have traditionally abridged Jamestown's story to the single scene of Pocahontas saving the life of Captain John Smith.
Americans have traditionally abridged Jamestown's story to the single scene of Pocahontas saving the life of Captain John Smith. (Commissioned By The Works Progress Administration / Getty Images)

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Carroll & Graf. 329 pp. $26.95

CAPTAIN

JOHN SMITH

Writings, with Other Narratives of Roanoke, Jamestown, and the First English Settlement of America

Edited by James Horn

Library of America

1,329 pp. $45

JAMESTOWN

By Matthew Sharpe

Soft Skull. 327 pp. $25

All memory is selective, for nations as for individuals. The year 1620 is etched into Plymouth Rock and the minds of most Americans as the birth date of this country. We hallow austere Pilgrims with a day of national gluttony. The Mayflower is iconic -- the name of a moving company, a luxury Washington hotel and a recent best-seller.

But can you name the three ships that landed English colonists 13 years before the Pilgrims? Identify one person aboard, other than John Smith? Explain why they came and what happened to them?


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