James Horn sheds new light on the year that gave birth to the great paradox of our nation: slavery in the midst of freedom. This portentous year marked both the origin of the most important political development in American history, the rise of democracy, and the emergence of what would in time become one of the nation's greatest challenges: the corrosive legacy of racial inequality that has afflicted America since its beginning.
Horn deftly navigates the toxic brew of war and intrigue ... Though 1619 may not technically live up to its subtitle, that does not matter. Lessons for an age in which winning is everything and the 'common good' is nothing are clear enough. Horn reminds modern readers that their forebears' long path toward democracy was crisscrossed by paths not taken, including paths in which prosperity and mutuality were not regarded as mutually exclusive. He invokes a time, however fleeting, when the 'common good' did not connote wishful thinking for misty memories but a means toward a better life.
This simple entertaining text in 1619 makes for a short fast entertaining read. Too often, writers dismiss the story of Jamestown in a few sentences, but here the author tells the forgotten causes of its achievements and failures but also the too often overlooked consequences. Horn includes useful maps and some illustrations.
... Mr. Horn persuasively argues that white Virginians saw no paradox in slavery, approved of by the Bible and already entrenched in the American colonies ... Maybe writing an erudite book should be enough for an author, but Messrs. Kelly [author of Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origin] and Horn strive for greater significance. As their subtitles imply, they feel the need to justify yet another book on Jamestown. Both authors suggest Americans should replace Plymouth Rock with Jamestown as our founding national story. But I wonder who, outside of New England, still sees Plymouth as the foundation of the United States ... Joseph Kelly and Jim Horn are beating a horse that died in the previous century ... Why pick one founding story out of the complex and fascinating past of this huge country?