This book written by historian Karen Ordahl Kupperman chronicled the events surrounding the historical controversy and mystery of the lost colony: Roanoke Island. It is what is now known as the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Before it became a United States territory, this island saw the dramatic struggles among the Indians who lived there, the colonists who were displaced from England, and the leaders of the expeditions who attempted to colonize the island in the 16th century. They vied for wealth and power. England, who eventually prevailed over Spain by defeating the Spanish Armada, failed twice to establish a settlement in Roanoke Island. How was this possible The last established settlement even disappeared without a trace. As to what happened, why or how, herein lies the controversy. Despite numerous studies and advances in information technology, most Americans are in the dark when it comes to this chapter of history.
This is precisely what brings relevance to Kupperman's Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony. The book tells the story of the time in a novel-like fashion. Through academic efforts such as this, former misconceptions and inaccurate characterizations attached to race are dispelled resulting in greater understanding of the lives of early Americans and their crucial role in the formation of this country. Until recently discussion of colonial history rarely centered on Indian social and political structure. Indians or Native Americans used to remain in the background of the grand drama but not anymore. Reading this book from cover to cover should break one's inaccurate or simplistic views of the Indians' way of life and their reception of the colonists. Not only that, Kupperman's Roanoke gave equal emphasis to the prominent figures of the Elizabethan era. The author also provides some logical explanations as to what went wrong then. What were the pitfalls of the plan
The subtitle the Abandoned Colony appropriately sums up the fate of the expeditions and the failure of their mission. In the book, Kupperman calls Roanoke a "twice-forgotten" colony and one that has been ignored by Americans today. To fully understand the subject of the book, it is necessary to take a step back and review history.
In 1584, England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I undertook an enterprise to colonize America with the goal of establishing a permanent settlement for the powerful empire to occupy and enjoy. Sir Walter Ralegh, who shared this dream and had the means to make it possible, was the first man to finance and organize such a venture. He was a young wealthy man who had the confidence of the queen; When the idea came up, he was said to be very hopeful. However, the first expedition meant to be the first to "plant the greatness of England" lasted less than a year. Even then, the English were confident that it would eventually succeed. Thus they tried something new. The final wave of colonists consisted of families, which showed greater chances of assimilating into the new territory. It enjoyed the financial support of a corporation and yet, it still failed. In fact, the colonists were never again seen. Kupperman, like other historians, offers many interesting insights to this.
She has subtly characterized the enterprise as too ambitious to be realistic. She contends that it was undertaken without clear goals; Those who backed the project had different and even conflicting expectations. Some supported the project to enrich themselves. Some saw it as a military outpost. She clarifies though that this does not by all means render the first attempt to colonize Ameri