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 naïve 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.