A sweeping account of a four-hundred-year-old mystery, the archeologists racing to unearth the answer, and what the Lost Colony reveals about America–from colonial days to today
In 1587, 115 men, women, and children arrived on Roanoke, an island off the coast of North Carolina. Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, their colony was to establish a foothold for England in the New World. But by the time the colony’s leader, John White, returned to Roanoke from a resupply mission in England, his settlers were nowhere to be found. They had vanished into the wilderness, leaving behind only a single clue–the word “Croatoan” carved into a tree.
The disappearance of the Lost Colony became an enduring American mystery. For four centuries, it has gone unsolved, obsessing countless historians, archeologists, and amateur sleuths. Today, after centuries of searching in vain, new clues have begun to surface. In The Secret Token, Andrew Lawler offers a beguiling history of the Lost Colony, and of the relentless quest to bring its fate to light. He accompanies competing archeologists as they seek out evidence, each team hoping to be the first to solve the riddle. In the course of his journey, Lawler explores how the Lost Colony came to haunt our national consciousness, working its way into literature, popular culture, and politics.
Incisive and absorbing, The Secret Token offers a new understanding not just of the Lost Colony, but of how its absence continues to define–and divide–America.
I DNFd this a little more than halfway in. While the first part was an enjoyable, if somewhat repetitive, historical look at what is known about the lost colony of Roanoke – the second seems to be the author meeting up with a lot of people who don’t really know anything definitive.
I liked the first half, especially the background on the politics and history that led to the Roanoke settlement as well as initial attempts to find out what happened to them. Also understanding the relations that various explorers had with indigenous people and how that impacted these various settlements/colonies.
However, I was disappointed in interviews with people who dug up pots in their back yard claiming they were “proof” only to have the author explain why archaeologists/historians/scientists/etc know it can’t be true. Same thing with maps and other finds. I just lost interest.
I enjoyed the narration by David H Lawrence XVII.