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Captain John Smith   By: (1829-1900)

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In "Captain John Smith" by Charles Dudley Warner, readers are offered a remarkable glimpse into the life of a prominent figure in American history. While not regarded as a definitive biography, Warner skillfully weaves together Smith's narratives and countless historical resources to create a captivating account of Smith's adventures and impact.

Throughout the book, Warner presents Smith as a complex character whose life was marked by extraordinary courage and determination. From his early years in England to his time in Virginia as one of the founders of Jamestown, the author presents a well-rounded portrait of Smith, displaying both his strengths and weaknesses. Warner aptly depicts Smith's ambition, persistence, and shrewdness, which shaped his leadership abilities and allowed him to navigate challenging situations in the New World.

One of the book's strengths lies in its detailed exploration of Smith's encounters with Native American tribes, particularly his interactions with Pocahontas. Warner effectively analyzes these encounters, shedding light on the complexities of cultural exchange and the challenges faced by both Indigenous peoples and English settlers. The author's research shines through, providing readers with a nuanced understanding of the cultural, political, and economic dynamics of the time.

Another aspect that stands out in "Captain John Smith" is Warner's ability to bring historical events to life. The book is filled with vivid descriptions that transport the reader to 17th-century America, capturing the landscapes, character nuances, and the overall atmosphere of the era. Warner's prose is engaging and accessible, making this biography an enjoyable read for both history enthusiasts and casual readers.

However, some readers might find that the book falls short in certain aspects. While Warner incorporates various historical sources, at times, the narrative lacks an in-depth analysis or personal insights into Smith's character. Additionally, the focus on Smith's adventures sometimes overshadows the significance of his contributions to the establishment of the Jamestown colony and early American history. These limitations might leave some readers wanting more depth and scholarly analysis.

Despite these minor shortcomings, "Captain John Smith" by Charles Dudley Warner remains a valuable addition to any history lover's collection. Offering an engaging and multifaceted perspective on one of America's most intriguing and influential pioneers, the book succeeds in bringing the story of Captain John Smith to life. Whether reading for enjoyment or seeking to expand one's knowledge of early American history, this biography is both accessible and enlightening.

First Page:


By Charles Dudley Warner


When I consented to prepare this volume for a series, which should deal with the notables of American history with some familiarity and disregard of historic gravity, I did not anticipate the seriousness of the task. But investigation of the subject showed me that while Captain John Smith would lend himself easily enough to the purely facetious treatment, there were historic problems worthy of a different handling, and that if the life of Smith was to be written, an effort should be made to state the truth, and to disentangle the career of the adventurer from the fables and misrepresentations that have clustered about it.

The extant biographies of Smith, and the portions of the history of Virginia that relate to him, all follow his own narrative, and accept his estimate of himself, and are little more than paraphrases of his story as told by himself. But within the last twenty years some new contemporary evidence has come to light, and special scholars have expended much critical research upon different portions of his career. The result of this modern investigation has been to discredit much of the romance gathered about Smith and Pocahontas, and a good deal to reduce his heroic proportions. A vague report of these scholarly studies has gone abroad, but no effort has been made to tell the real story of Smith as a connected whole in the light of the new researches... Continue reading book >>

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