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Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma The American Portraits Series

ISBN: 9780809077380 | 0809077388
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Pub. Date: 9/7/2005

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Camilla Townsend's stunning book differs from all previous biographies of Pocahontas in capturing how similar seventeenth-century Native Americans were--in the way they saw, understood, and struggled to control their world--not only to the invading English but to ourselves. Neither naiuml;ve nor innocent, Indians like Pocahontas and her father, the powerful king Powhatan, confronted the vast might of the English with sophistication, diplomacy, and violence. Indeed, Pocahontas's life is a testament to the subtle intelligence that Native Americans, always aware of their material disadvantages, brought against the military power of the colonizing English. Resistance, espionage, collaboration, deception: Pocahontas's life is shown as a road map to Native American strategies of defiance exercised in the face of overwhelming odds and in the hope for a semblance of independence worth the name. Camilla Townsendlives in Hamilton, New York, and is an associate professor of history at Colgate University. She is also the author ofTales of Two Cities: Race and Economic Culture in Early Republican North and South America. Camilla Townsend's stunning new book differs from all previous biographies of Pocahontas in the way it shrewdly captures how similar 17th-century Native Americans were--in their efforts to live in, understand, and control their world--not only to the invading English, but also to ourselves. Neither naive nor innocent, Indians like Pocahontas and her father, the powerful king Powhatan, confronted the vast might of the English with sophistication, diplomacy, and violence. Indeed, Pocahontas's life is a testament to the subtle intelligence that Native Americans, always aware of their material disadvantages, brought against the military power of the colonizing English. Resistance, espionage, collaboration, deception: Pocahontas's life is shown here as a roadmap of Native American strategies of defiance exercised in the face of overwhelming odds and in the hope of a semblance of independence worth the name. Townsend's Pocahontas emerges--as a young child on the banks of the Chesapeake, an influential noblewoman visiting a struggling Jamestown, an English gentlewoman in London--for the first time in three dimensions, allowing us to see and sympathize with her people as never before. "Townsend provides students with a model for how to tease meaning out of a fragmentary and intensely biased historical record. I look forward to having an opportunity to assign her book to my students and anticipate that it will work both in the American history survey course and in upper-division courses in early America."--Michael Leroy Oberg,The Journal of American History "Despite the abundance of works that trace the history of early colonial Virginia and the career of the Powhatan 'princess' Pocahontas, Camilla Townsend's brief new biography is a wonderful addition to the literature. Townsend brings new perspectives to bear on an individual who has been frequently portrayed, but seldom understood, over the course of the last four centuries. Townsend has written a book that is especially easy to read. Making exceptional use of recent archeological work in the Virginia Tidewater, insights from her own published work on Latin America, judicious conclusions drawn from linguistic evidence, and just the right amount of historical imagination, Townsend has composed out of a fragmentary historical record a compelling portrait of Pocahontas. Townsend'sPocahontasis exceptionally well suited for classroom discussions . . . Townsend provides students with a model for how to tease meaning out of a fragmentary and intensely biased historical record. I look forward to having an opportunity to assign her book to my students and anticipat


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