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?
Resources on the fate of the human beings who survived the Middle Passage are largely nonexistent, forcing Horn into broad conjecture based on sparse colonial records. He offers predictable accounts of the hardships, Indian wars, and English justifications for brutal attempts to conquer the Powhatan tribes of Virginia ... Despite the work to include the histories of enslaved Africans and the natives of the area, this well-told account is strongest in its exploration of the conflicts among various English factions.
A well-researched, insightful history that will persuade some readers that [Horn] is on to something ... Readers may question whether the 1619 election deeply influenced our institutions, but it was the first, and Horn has expertly illuminated a little-known era following Jamestown’s settlement.