Swift-moving prose along a twisting storyline lends this brilliant book the feel of a mystery.

A BRAVE AND CUNNING PRINCE

THE GREAT CHIEF OPECHANCANOUGH AND THE WAR FOR AMERICA

An accomplished work of scholarly detection that plays out against the background of the English colonization of Virginia.

Opechancanough, the center of Virginia historian Horn’s narrative, was abducted from his Chesapeake Bay homeland by Spanish sailors in the 1550s and taken to Mexico and Spain, where he met King Philip II. Recorded in the Spanish annals as Paquiquineo, a name simplified as Don Luis, he converted to Catholicism and promised to help the Spanish establish a colony on Powhatan lands, the site of a tight confederacy of Native nations. After returning there, however, he organized the massacre of Jesuit priests who had established a mission not far from present-day Richmond. The brother of the king, and in the line of royal succession, Opechancanough then mounted a long war of resistance against the English. Horn ventures two potentially controversial suggestions: first, that Don Luis and Opechancanough were one and the same, since some historians have argued that they were not; and second, that Opechancanough and his elite band of warriors were responsible for the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony, long a matter of historical speculation. He provides convincing evidence for both assertions, building on a portrait of Virginia and its neighbors that, at the time of the European arrival, was the site of a sophisticated political and economic network whose participants were well aware of distant events and who coordinated to fight the newcomers. Some familiar figures appear, including John Smith and Pocahontas, on both of whom Horn sheds new light as players in a drama that would unfold over decades. He portrays Opechancanough as a man who, having seen the subjugation of Native peoples and the enslavement of Africans in Mexico, knew exactly what was coming on those English ships and fought to prevent their successful settlement—which, thanks to both the divisions of the English civil war and Opechancanough’s fierce fighting, almost didn’t happen.

Swift-moving prose along a twisting storyline lends this brilliant book the feel of a mystery.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-465-03890-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE'LL BE LAUGHING

The bestselling author recalls her childhood and her family’s wartime experiences.

Readers of Winspear’s popular Maisie Dobbs mystery series appreciate the London investigator’s canny resourcefulness and underlying humanity as she solves her many cases. Yet Dobbs had to overcome plenty of hardships in her ascent from her working-class roots. Part of the appeal of Winspear’s Dobbs series are the descriptions of London and the English countryside, featuring vividly drawn particulars that feel like they were written with firsthand knowledge of that era. In her first book of nonfiction, the author sheds light on the inspiration for Dobbs and her stories as she reflects on her upbringing during the 1950s and ’60s. She focuses much attention on her parents’ lives and their struggles supporting a family, as they chose to live far removed from their London pasts. “My parents left the bombsites and memories of wartime London for an openness they found in the country and on the land,” writes Winspear. As she recounts, each of her parents often had to work multiple jobs, which inspired the author’s own initiative, a trait she would apply to the Dobbs character. Her parents recalled grueling wartime experiences as well as stories of the severe battlefield injuries that left her grandfather shell-shocked. “My mother’s history,” she writes, “became my history—probably because I was young when she began telling me….Looking back, her stories—of war, of abuse at the hands of the people to whom she and her sisters had been billeted when evacuated from London, of seeing the dead following a bombing—were probably too graphic for a child. But I liked listening to them.” Winspear also draws distinctive portraits of postwar England, altogether different from the U.S., where she has since settled, and her unsettling struggles within the rigid British class system.

An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64129-269-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Literate and full of engaging historical asides. By far the best of the many lives of Hamilton now in print, and a model of...

ALEXANDER HAMILTON

A splendid life of an enlightened reactionary and forgotten Founding Father.

“In all probability,” writes financial historian/biographer Chernow (Titan, 1998, etc.), “Alexander Hamilton is the foremost political figure in American history who never attained the presidency, yet he probably had a much deeper and lasting impact than many who did.” Indeed, we live in a Hamiltonian republic through and through, and not a Jeffersonian democracy. Many of the financial and tax systems that Hamilton proposed and put in place as the nation’s first treasury secretary are with us today, if in evolved form, as Chernow shows; and though Hamilton was derided in his time as being pro-British and even a secret monarchist, Chernow writes, he was second only to George Washington in political prominence, at least on the practical, day-to-day front. The author wisely acknowledges but does not dwell unduly on Washington’s quasi-paternal role in Hamilton’s life and fortunes; unlike many biographies that consider Hamilton only in Washington’s shadow, this one grants him a life of his own—and a stirring one at that, for Hamilton was both intensely cerebral and a man of action. He was, Chernow writes, a brilliant ancestor of the abolitionist cause; a native of the slave island of Nevis, he came to hate “the tyranny embodied by the planters and their authoritarian rule, while also fearing the potential uprisings of the disaffected slaves”—a dichotomy that influenced his views of ordinary politics. He was also constantly in opposition to things as they were, particularly where those things were Jeffersonian; as Chernow shows, Hamilton had early on been “an unusually tolerant man with enlightened views on slavery, Native Americans, and Jews,” but became a crusty conservative near the end of his brief life (1755–1804), perhaps as a result of one too many personal setbacks at the hands of the Jeffersonians.

Literate and full of engaging historical asides. By far the best of the many lives of Hamilton now in print, and a model of the biographer’s art.

Pub Date: April 26, 2004

ISBN: 1-59420-009-2

Page Count: 802

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2004

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