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A Brave and Cunning Prince: The Great Chief Opechancanough and the War for America

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The extraordinary story of the Powhatan chief who waged a lifelong struggle to drive European settlers from his homeland In the mid-sixteenth century, Spanish explorers in the Chesapeake Bay kidnapped an Indian child and took him back to Spain and subsequently to Mexico. The boy converted to Catholicism and after nearly a decade was able to return to his land with a group o The extraordinary story of the Powhatan chief who waged a lifelong struggle to drive European settlers from his homeland In the mid-sixteenth century, Spanish explorers in the Chesapeake Bay kidnapped an Indian child and took him back to Spain and subsequently to Mexico. The boy converted to Catholicism and after nearly a decade was able to return to his land with a group of Jesuits to establish a mission. Shortly after arriving, he organized a war party that killed them. In the years that followed, Opechancanough (as the English called him), helped establish the most powerful chiefdom in the mid-Atlantic region. When English settlers founded Virginia in 1607, he fought tirelessly to drive them away, leading to a series of wars that spanned the next forty years the first Anglo-Indian wars in America and came close to destroying the colony. A Brave and Cunning Prince is the first book to chronicle the life of this remarkable chief, exploring his early experiences of European society and his long struggle to save his people from conquest.


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The extraordinary story of the Powhatan chief who waged a lifelong struggle to drive European settlers from his homeland In the mid-sixteenth century, Spanish explorers in the Chesapeake Bay kidnapped an Indian child and took him back to Spain and subsequently to Mexico. The boy converted to Catholicism and after nearly a decade was able to return to his land with a group o The extraordinary story of the Powhatan chief who waged a lifelong struggle to drive European settlers from his homeland In the mid-sixteenth century, Spanish explorers in the Chesapeake Bay kidnapped an Indian child and took him back to Spain and subsequently to Mexico. The boy converted to Catholicism and after nearly a decade was able to return to his land with a group of Jesuits to establish a mission. Shortly after arriving, he organized a war party that killed them. In the years that followed, Opechancanough (as the English called him), helped establish the most powerful chiefdom in the mid-Atlantic region. When English settlers founded Virginia in 1607, he fought tirelessly to drive them away, leading to a series of wars that spanned the next forty years the first Anglo-Indian wars in America and came close to destroying the colony. A Brave and Cunning Prince is the first book to chronicle the life of this remarkable chief, exploring his early experiences of European society and his long struggle to save his people from conquest.

30 review for A Brave and Cunning Prince: The Great Chief Opechancanough and the War for America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eric Smith

    Through careful scholarship and a bit of deduction, James Horn asserts that Paquinqueo, the Powhatan youth taken to Spain in the late 16th century and christened Don Louis, is the same individual as Opechancanough, the Powhatan war chief who led the 1622 and 1644 uprisings against the English settlers in Virginia. Up until this point, the prevailing view was that Paquinqueo and Opechancanough were related, but not the same person. Mr. Horn builds his case by describing events in 16/17th century V Through careful scholarship and a bit of deduction, James Horn asserts that Paquinqueo, the Powhatan youth taken to Spain in the late 16th century and christened Don Louis, is the same individual as Opechancanough, the Powhatan war chief who led the 1622 and 1644 uprisings against the English settlers in Virginia. Up until this point, the prevailing view was that Paquinqueo and Opechancanough were related, but not the same person. Mr. Horn builds his case by describing events in 16/17th century Virginia from the perspective of the Powhatan confederacy. He starts with Paquinqueo's travels to Spain and return to Virginia. Then looks at the arrival and slow expansions of English settlements after their first landing at Jamestown from the perspective of Chief Powhatan. The contemporary documentation is scant, and often so clouded with cultural fog that becomes nearly opaque. By assembling the available evidence from English letters, journals, campaign movements, and company reports, Mr. Horn reaches his conclusion. He then goes on to give us the closest thing to a biography of Opechancanough that exists, set within a political history of the Powhatan Confederacy. This larger political history is the book's biggest strength. By not treating them as a backdrop or supporting cast to the story of Jamestown, Mr. Horn illuminates their autonomy and the complexity of the world they lived in. Beset on all sides by competitors, Chief Powhatan had to maintain a careful balance of power, an effort that was both enabled and disrupted by the English settlement full of potential high-tech weaponry and links to European supply. Opechancanough's knowledge of the Europeans was a critical factor in Powhatan's decisions, with the most spectacular being the initiation of the 1622 uprising. Highly readable and complete with well-drawn maps to accompany events, this is a good book for anyone interested in the early interaction between Europeans and Native Americans in Virginia. For the wider audience, they may find it interesting, but not as gripping (that's the only reason I gave it four stars).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    A Brave and Cunning Prince by James Horn is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early November. Before reading this, I had no idea that the Spanish had such a presence in the colonies during the late 1500s - aside from that, it's far, far more storied than other books about Jamestown and Plymouth I’ve read before, which (comparatively) have been more like lists of stats and quotes. You get a good idea of how people within the area are like and what drives them to remain there and fight for it, A Brave and Cunning Prince by James Horn is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early November. Before reading this, I had no idea that the Spanish had such a presence in the colonies during the late 1500s - aside from that, it's far, far more storied than other books about Jamestown and Plymouth I’ve read before, which (comparatively) have been more like lists of stats and quotes. You get a good idea of how people within the area are like and what drives them to remain there and fight for it, not to mention the naïveté and powerful assumptions that the British had toward the Powhatan.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Not a bad book, but a bit unfocused. I'm not sure there was enough material here to really be a book about Chief Opechanchanough so it winds up being about him and Powhatan and John Smith and the Jamestown colony and and and..... I did learn more about the specific interactions between the colonists and the Indigenous people of the area but this felt like a shorter portion of a bigger story than a finished product to me. Not a bad book, but a bit unfocused. I'm not sure there was enough material here to really be a book about Chief Opechanchanough so it winds up being about him and Powhatan and John Smith and the Jamestown colony and and and..... I did learn more about the specific interactions between the colonists and the Indigenous people of the area but this felt like a shorter portion of a bigger story than a finished product to me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David

    Excellent biography of the Native American Chief Opechancanough of the Powhatan Tribe who lived for about one hundred years during both the Spanish and English explorations of the Americas. Horn's account is well-documented and researched clearly documenting the struggles and wars between the natives and the Europeans who were taking their land. Excellent biography of the Native American Chief Opechancanough of the Powhatan Tribe who lived for about one hundred years during both the Spanish and English explorations of the Americas. Horn's account is well-documented and researched clearly documenting the struggles and wars between the natives and the Europeans who were taking their land.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Horn tells the story of a young Indian taken to Spain in 1561 and then Mexico, New Spain who is renamed Don Luis and sent back to Virginia with a group of Spanish Jesuits in 1570. He led their massacre and then later fought against the English at Opecnancanough. Particularly during the 1609-1610 Starving Time and the Massacres of 1622 and 1644. He died as a prisoner of the English about 1646.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Downs

    Amazing story about an incredible individual, told well. Lots of detail on the interaction between early English colonies in the Chesapeake and the indigenous peoples they encountered. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Cole

    A very interesting book. Opechancanough had an amazing life, and did the best he could for his people.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kent

    Compelling.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    A concise assembly of history that tells the tale of a warrior chief and his leadership to drive settlers from already occupied lands. Sticks to the facts for the most part.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  12. 5 out of 5

    Deane

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ben Gauen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Benjamin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andy Edwards

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carson Dyer

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eyani

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Larry

  21. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

  22. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Burnett

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert O'neal

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jared Ross

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  26. 5 out of 5

    Becca Walker

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shelly Wall

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ron McFarland

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Westöö

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