Frederic W. Gleach offers the most balanced and complete accounting of the early years of the Jamestown colony to date. When English colonists established their first permanent settlement at Jamestown in 1607, they confronted a powerful and growing Native chiefdom consisting of over thirty tribes under one paramount chief, Powhatan. For the next half-century, a portion of the Middle Atlantic coastal plain became a charged and often violent meeting ground between two very different worlds.
Frederic W. Gleach is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University.
“Powhatan’s World and Colonial Virginia is likely to be the focus of spirited discussion for years to come. New interpretations of long-discussed events appear in literally every chapter.”—Journal of Southern History
“Anyone who thinks that ethnohistory is dull and descriptive, or that the subdisciplines of anthropology cannot be brought to bear on particular historical cases, must read Frederic Gleach’s reassessment of the contact between the confederacy of the Powhatan and the settlers at Jamestown, Virginia. Gleach attributes the ensuing conflict to incommensurable worldviews rather than to competition for scarce resources. Colonists and Indians largely misunderstood one another without realizing that they did so, all the while undertaking ‘mutual attempts to civilize each other.’ . . . A fascinating book.”—American Anthropologist