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The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the…
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The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of… (original: 2018; edição: 2019)

de Andrew Lawler (Autor)

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1655131,146 (4.23)3
"A sweeping account of America's oldest unsolved mystery, the people racing to unearth its answer, and the sobering truths--about race, gender, and immigration--exposed by the Lost Colony of Roanoke. In 1587, 115 men, women, and children arrived at Roanoke Island on the coast of North Carolina. Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, their colony was to establish England's first foothold in the New World. But when the colony's leader, John White, returned to Roanoke from a resupply mission, his settlers were nowhere to be found. They left behind only a single clue--a "secret token" carved into a tree. Neither White nor any other European laid eyes on the colonists again. What happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke? For four hundred years, that question has consumed historians and amateur sleuths, leading only to dead ends and hoaxes. But after a chance encounter with a British archaeologist, journalist Andrew Lawler discovered that solid answers to the mystery were within reach. He set out to unravel the enigma of the lost settlers, accompanying competing researchers, each hoping to be the first to solve its riddle. In the course of his journey, Lawler encounters a host of characters obsessed with the colonists and their fate, and he determines why the Lost Colony continues to haunt our national consciousness. Thrilling and absorbing, The Secret Token offers a new understanding not just of the first English settlement in the New World but of how its disappearance continues to define--and divide--America."--Dust jacket.… (mais)
Membro:NatWalk
Título:The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke
Autores:Andrew Lawler (Autor)
Informação:Anchor (2019), Edition: Reprint, 448 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke de Andrew Lawler (2018)

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Exibindo 5 de 5
An interesting account of the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. While the author advances some new theories and facts the mystery still remains unsolved. Enjoyed reading the book and a lot of research went into the story. ( )
  CrystalToller | Mar 5, 2019 |
The Secret Token refers to the carving CRO on a tree on Roanoke Island. It was the last sign left with John White when he finally returned with supplies to find everyone in the settlement missing.
Mr. Lawler has compiled an intriguing book about one of American history's most compelling mysteries. He starts with various expeditions along the American coast, most of which I wasn't familiar with (I know more about New England early history). There's history about the settling of Roanoke, first by Raleigh's men, then by those who became the Lost Colonists.
I was surprised to learn that no one really looked for them for over two centuries, but then they became an obsession, something the author explores diligently. There were various archeological expeditions, most of which found very little, both in the Outer Banks and also further inland at likely sites. Archives in Europe and the Americas have been searched for relevant documents. Finally, DNA testing has been done on likely candidates to determine if later generations of the Lost Colonists survived after mingling with Indian tribes.
There's a nice section on Virginia Dare, the first white baby born in the Americas, about whom very little is know besides her birth and christening dates. She evolved into a symbol of white America, and Mr. Lawler traces her notoriety as a symbol of anti-immigration policies and groups.
I never heard of the Dare Stone which is a possible relic from the Colony, and found the information about the other hoaxes enjoyable. I hoped for more information about the DNA studies; I've read some other information that seemed to add more to the story than was contained here.
All in all, I found The Secret Toke informative and a good read. While what happened to the colony is still somewhat of a mystery, Mr. Lawler provides some convincing hypotheses. And provides more reasons, if you need them, for not watching The History Channel. ( )
  N.W.Moors | Oct 14, 2018 |
An interesting book on one of the great mysteries of colonial America. In 1587 the boats sailed away, leaving 115 colonists on the shore of an island on North Carolina's coast. Delayed in returning by the Spanish Armada and threats to England, only later were ships with new supplies sent back, and the colony had disappeared, leaving only a word "Croatan", carved on a post. A "Secret token" of a cross was supposed to have been placed beneath any message to show an emergency. The secret token was missing. No evidence of the fate of the colonists was ever found, including the fate of two children known to have been born in North Carolina. Subsequent searches were infrequent, uncoordinated and curiously ineffective.

The mystery has not been solved in the years since, but various different groups and individuals have tried. Some intriguing clues have been found, but the significance of the clues or what they mean are still unknown. A patch over the figure of a fort on a contemporary map may show where the English went for protection, but nothing so far has been found at the site. The names and places of other sites have been eroded away, changed or disappeared. Suggestions that hidden or lost archives exist don't pan out. Mysterious stones with English engravings appear, some are found to be forgeries, others not. Perhaps. Who were some of the people involved, what were their private agendas, and did they or did they not include slaves captured by the Spanish, then captured by the English? What were the relations of the colonists with the Indians, one of whom, Manteo, was made an English lord, while the other, Wanchese, disappeared back to the interior when returned to America.

Much of this book also covers the use of the Lost Colony mystery in literature, racial politics, tourism, wine sales and endless speculation afterwards. How the mystery is entwined in American lore is examined, but many strings from this entwinement remain entangled. Where are the colonist's bodies and metal goods? What happened to them? The question remains unresolved today.

An interesting book that goes down many different paths, but again, comes away from the mystery without a solution. Archaeology, DNA analysis, historical research, oral traditions, all remain inconclusive to the accurate fate of these people. The only ting that has remained constant is that people do not like unresolved mysteries, and the Lost Colony is like an itch that needs to be scratched, but which lasts over generations.

The book is recommended. ( )
  hadden | Jul 19, 2018 |
I received a digital ARC of this book from Doubleday on NetGalley. I’m grateful to Doubleday for their generosity and am happy to post this honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis
In 1587, 115 British citizens come to colonize America disappeared from Roanoke Island, leaving behind almost no traces, except for the word “Croatoan” carved into a tree. In the four hundred-plus years since, little has been discovered to explain where these men, women, and children went. To date it remains one of history’s great, unsolved mysteries. In The Secret Token, Lawler sets out the history of the colony, the search for answers, and the meaning these answers would have on the racial and cultural identity of those who trace their ancestry to the island.

Structure
Lawler structures his book in three parts that read, in many respects, like vastly different mini-books. The first section is almost purely historical narrative setting up how the colony came to be, who the major players were on the relevant voyages, the historical struggle between Spain and Britain for (essentially) world domination, and how it came to pass that the colony was lost. This section reads like a straightforward narrative history that, to be honest, almost lost me. There’s only so much history of dead white men (plus Elizabeth) that I care to read. Though, I’m pretty sure Sir Walter Raleigh’s playboy ways were left out of the history books my public schools used. (And, in Lawler’s defense, he makes this section about as interesting as it can be, given the available historical record).

If this doesn’t sound interesting to you, take heart–the next two sections have an entirely different tone and slightly fewer white men. The second section focuses entirely on the search for the colony—beginning almost immediately after their disappearance and continuing to the presently obsessed archaeologists still sifting through the North Carolina marsh silt on their weekends. The first chapters in this section on the immediate search provided the bridge that segued into the (in my opinion) more interesting searches of the modern era. While some of this remains in a narrative historical style, Lawler begins to include himself in the story. He describes interactions with historians who not only provide Lawler the relevant history but express their frustrations and theories. This section also includes some of the more eccentric characters who are still out there searching. Their inclusion shows the hold the mystery of the colony still has on people, making the book feel relevant and a little bit tantalizingly voyeuristic. As Lawler is sucked deeper into the subject matter of his own book, his writing takes on hints of the obsession that infects many of those he’s interviewing and invites the reader along for this ride. In this vein, Lawler leaves no stone unturned—evaluating each archaeological and cartographic find, including the controversial (and possibly faked) Dare Stone.

The last section, and the reason this book earned my 3 ¾ stars, looks at the myth through the lens of race. One of the reasons this myth still holds such sway is that what ultimately happened to the Colony and to baby Virginia Dare—the first white child born in America—has lasting implications to both those who cling to white supremacy and those who claim first nation heritage in this part of the country. Within this section, Lawler also discusses how the area came to be home to many African slaves and their descendants, making this area of mixing bowl of races. When the government sought to maintain white supremacy, the Native American descendants were successfully pitted against their African neighbors in a bid to create a racial hierarchy that preserved white supremacy.

Race and Identity
My grandmother was born in North Carolina, one of twelve children and the eldest girl. Her name was Virginia Dare Moore. When I learned in elementary school that the first child born in the colonies was named Virginia Dare, I thought this was the coolest. Until very recently, when I thought about possible kid names (not pregnant, not trying), I thought about naming a girl after my beloved Nana. My dad had mentioned in passing on an occasion that my grandmother always hated her name and I never knew why. After reading this book, I suspect I know.

Beginning in the 1800s and particularly at the turn of the 20th Century, Virginia Dare was adopted as a white supremacist icon. One of the most likely possibilities of what happened to the colony is that it was absorbed into the local native population—there are no remains that suggest they died on the island (by natural or other means) and they did leave behind the word Croatoan (the name of a local tribe/area) carved in a tree. The problem with this answer to the Roanoke mystery if you’re a racist white woman who wants the vote but wants to maintain the white status quo, is that it necessarily means that white women mixed with native men (and vice versa) and had mixed race children. Enter virginal Virginia Dare who lived with the natives because she had no other choice to survive but stayed apart, a shining, white example completely without historical basis in fact.

On the other side, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina is, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, the possible ancestors of the tribes who once lived on and around Roanoke Island. If the colonizers mixed with any tribe, their descendants may be members of the Lumbee Tribe. This tribe, while recognized by the state, is not formally recognized by the federal government, which means they are denied many of the benefits afforded to officially “recognized” Native American tribes. One possible method to solve the mystery would be to trace lineages of the White family in Britain (Virginia Dare’s grandfather) and compare the genes of those identified descendants to those in the Lumbee tribe. Many members of the Lumbee (and many Native Americans period), however, have resisted this suggestion. For some, there is the real fear that the information gathered would be misused (a belief well-supported by how our government has historically treated first nation peoples as well as the story of Henrietta Lacks). For others, there is a question of what it would reveal. A handful of Lumbee who have agreed to participate have discovered that their genetic markers indicate they are majority white and have significant African-American ancestry as well. For those in the community whose identity is defined by being Lumbee, by having native ancestors, these tests have the ability to call everything they know about themselves into question.

The myth of the Lost Colony of Roanoke is not then, just a straight-forward question of what happened to 115 people in 1587. Rather, the myth extends to the convenient and often false narratives we still tell ourselves about who is “pure,” who belongs, and who we are.

Recommended
As a Virginian with North Carolinian roots, I grew up hearing about the Lost Colony of Roanoke and thought it was fascinating. I was never told and never realized the significance the still mystery has to people today or the racial underpinnings of the theories. The Secret Token is a book that will stick with me for a while—much like A More Beautiful and Terrible History, it calls into question the history I learned as a child and the motives of the creators of our national history and myths.

Notes
Published: June 5, 2018 by Doubleday (@doubledaybooks)
Author: Andrew Lawler
Date read: May 30, 2018
Rating: 3 ¾ stars

More reviews: www.lisaanreads.com ( )
1 vote ImLisaAnn | Jun 7, 2018 |
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a galley of this book.

This sweeping narrative history looks at the leadup to the Roanoke Colony and Raleigh's rise in England, to the establishment of the colony, to the search by Gov John White after he returned to England, right up to the different theories and searches and theories into the 21st century.

Lawler covers a lot of time, though he explains that after the original search and the establishment of Jamestown, not much was happened in the search for the Roanoke settlers until Bancroft wrote about the colony in the early/mid 1800s. There have been postulations, digs, frauds, lies, hopes, studies, interviews, claims, and more all made since. And still there is little to no evidence of what happened to the colony's inhabitants.

When Lawler gets into the 20th century, his narrative becomes exceptional. Now he is doing research in primary documents (newspapers and more), interviewing researchers, seeing the long-running play on Roanoke, talking to supposed descendants, looking at supposed artifacts, and discussing theories, digs, DNA research, and more. He approaches this as the mystery that it is, and looks at each new find, each new theory, each new dig, each new method of research and explores the results.

I did not know who Lawler was when I received this book. I read about his career on Goodreads--30 years of journalism, science, and archaeology writing, and awards and fellowships won. He is an excellent writer and knows how to research science/archaeology topics, and handled this history/archaeology topic well. I now want to read his book about the chicken. ( )
  Dreesie | May 18, 2018 |
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"A sweeping account of America's oldest unsolved mystery, the people racing to unearth its answer, and the sobering truths--about race, gender, and immigration--exposed by the Lost Colony of Roanoke. In 1587, 115 men, women, and children arrived at Roanoke Island on the coast of North Carolina. Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, their colony was to establish England's first foothold in the New World. But when the colony's leader, John White, returned to Roanoke from a resupply mission, his settlers were nowhere to be found. They left behind only a single clue--a "secret token" carved into a tree. Neither White nor any other European laid eyes on the colonists again. What happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke? For four hundred years, that question has consumed historians and amateur sleuths, leading only to dead ends and hoaxes. But after a chance encounter with a British archaeologist, journalist Andrew Lawler discovered that solid answers to the mystery were within reach. He set out to unravel the enigma of the lost settlers, accompanying competing researchers, each hoping to be the first to solve its riddle. In the course of his journey, Lawler encounters a host of characters obsessed with the colonists and their fate, and he determines why the Lost Colony continues to haunt our national consciousness. Thrilling and absorbing, The Secret Token offers a new understanding not just of the first English settlement in the New World but of how its disappearance continues to define--and divide--America."--Dust jacket.

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