The Secret Token
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 todayIn 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.

The Secret Token Details

TitleThe Secret Token
Author
ReleaseJun 5th, 2018
PublisherDoubleday
ISBN-139780385542012
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History, Historical, Mystery, Archaeology

The Secret Token Review

  • Nancy Oakes
    January 1, 1970
    As much as I enjoyed this book, it needs a home. If you're in the US and you want it, it's yours and I'll pay postage. Just let me know. http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20...I am fascinated by mystery stories, and they don't have to be fictional to capture my interest. This goes back to my childhood when I would read anything and everything, fiction and nonfiction alike. Fictional mysteries are the heart and soul of my reading life, but "real" mysteries are equally as fascinating-- I'm talkin As much as I enjoyed this book, it needs a home. If you're in the US and you want it, it's yours and I'll pay postage. Just let me know. http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20...I am fascinated by mystery stories, and they don't have to be fictional to capture my interest. This goes back to my childhood when I would read anything and everything, fiction and nonfiction alike. Fictional mysteries are the heart and soul of my reading life, but "real" mysteries are equally as fascinating-- I'm talking about the kind of mysteries that may not be answered in my lifetime but are still embedded somewhere in my brain. For me, the fate of the "lost colony" of Roanoke was another such real mystery stemming from childhood, and I joined the ranks of lost colony obsessives. But while I may be obsessed, I'm still picky about what I read and even more so about what I think is plausible, so when I saw that Andrew Lawler (an author I trust whose work I've read many times in The Smithsonian) had published a book about it, I couldn't push that buy button quickly enough. It is an informative, thought provoking and downright captivating book that any Roanoke obsessive must read, unless, of course, you're of the alien abduction or yes, even zombie crowd who thrive on more out-there sort of theories.At one point I had to laugh when the author describes how his work had gone "beyond professional diligence and into very obsession" that he'd seen in others. As he says,"The real power exerted by the lost Colonists was not in archives or archaeological trenches but in the stories they spawned,"so there will continue to be people who, despite the facts presented here, will continue to spin their own ideas or who will further the myths behind one of the most intriguing mysteries in our history. Bottom line: it's fascinating stuff and Lawler is the right person to put it all together. Very highly recommended.
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  • Geoffrey
    January 1, 1970
    (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)Due to my being born and raised a New Englander, my education on the "founding" of America focused quite heavily on Pilgrims and Puritans. The Roanoke Colony was nothing more than the briefest of mentions in textbooks about Sir Walter Raleigh, a few folks vanishing, and a strange place name carved onto a tree. So to put it bluntly, until now I had absolutely no idea - no idea about the history of the short-lived col (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)Due to my being born and raised a New Englander, my education on the "founding" of America focused quite heavily on Pilgrims and Puritans. The Roanoke Colony was nothing more than the briefest of mentions in textbooks about Sir Walter Raleigh, a few folks vanishing, and a strange place name carved onto a tree. So to put it bluntly, until now I had absolutely no idea - no idea about the history of the short-lived colony, no idea about the obsession that has so fiercely gripped many a person and driven them to strive so hard to try and discover what happened to a particular band of English settlers in the Outer Banks, no idea about the myriad and often directly opposing meanings that the attempted colony has held for people both past and present, just no idea whatsoever. Thankfully, Andrew Lawler turned out to be the absolute perfect guide to the Lost Colony and its incredibly rich mix of history, mystery, and controversy. He leaves no stone unturned as goes on a voyage of discovery that is exhaustive in its coverage of all matters of the Lost Colony, but never to the point where it inundates or confuses. Although he travels everywhere from Tudor-era London to a room filled with forged stone carvings and he covers topics ranging from racial identity to early American feminism, his clarity of writing ensures that the reader sticks right by his side from start to finish. This is an absolutely captivating read that does its subject matter full justice with a passionate thoroughness. There's little doubt in this reader mind that that author's very own "Lost Colony Syndrome" will infect no small amount of people with a newfound fascination with the missing settlers of Roanoke Island.
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  • Susan (the other Susan)
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating product of determined journalism. The so-called "Lost Colony" is a romantic legend that enabled white supremacists - as early as the mid-1800s - to deny the likelihood that survivors among the abandoned Roanoke colonists intermingled with Native Americans and later with Africans who took refuge among the coastal tribes. They weren't lost; they just chose to survive in a way that was ideologically unacceptable.
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  • Patrick Pope
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent discussion of the search for the Lost Colony from 1500’s to present with a discussion of how our ideas have changed, concluding with a logical explanation. A short article by the author based on the book was in National Geographic Magazine June 2018.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    If you like true mysteries, conspiracy theories, or adventures, this book will hit your buttons. It's a real page turner, and it's well enough researched and thought out to give some interesting and thought provoking insights into American attitudes concerning racial integration, mixing & melding, and how they have changed over the centuries. I'll recommend this book to many friends.
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  • Casey Wheeler
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free Kindle copy of The Secret Token by Andrew Lawler courtesy of Net Galley  and Doubleday Books, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as all I really know about the lost colony of Roanoke is antidotal and I have never read anything about the details. This is the first bo I received a free Kindle copy of The Secret Token by Andrew Lawler courtesy of Net Galley  and Doubleday Books, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as all I really know about the lost colony of Roanoke is antidotal and I have never read anything about the details. This is the first book by Andrew Lawler that I have read.The subtitle "Myth, Obession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke" is an acturate description of the book. Lawler has done a very good job of researching the subject and presenting the many potential outcomes without pushing hard for one of the theories of what happened to the colony. Although he did indicate his belief in the final chapter of the book which I happen to agree with.I found this book to be interesting and an easy read. The author did not get bogged down in presenting the history surrounding the colony since its disapperance.I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the early settlement of North America and in the lost colony of Roanoke in particular.
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  • Casey Wheeler
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free Kindle copy of The Secret Token by Andrew Lawler courtesy of Net Galley  and Doubleday Books, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as all I really know about the lost colony of Roanoke is antidotal and I have never read anything about the details. This is the first bo I received a free Kindle copy of The Secret Token by Andrew Lawler courtesy of Net Galley  and Doubleday Books, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as all I really know about the lost colony of Roanoke is antidotal and I have never read anything about the details. This is the first book by Andrew Lawler that I have read.The subtitle "Myth, Obession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke" is an acturate description of the book. Lawler has done a very good job of researching the subject and presenting the many potential outcomes without pushing hard for one of the theories of what happened to the colony. Although he did indicate his belief in the final chapter of the book which I happen to agree with.I found this book to be interesting and an easy read. The author did not get bogged down in presenting the history surrounding the colony since its disapperance.I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the early settlement of North America and in the lost colony of Roanoke in particular.
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  • Buck Edwards
    January 1, 1970
    In 'The Secret Token', Andrew Lawler takes us on the scenic route--no short cuts, just every dead end in the search for concrete evidence, but oh, what a ride. Four centuries of characters appearing and reappearing, with theories, hunches, and swamps of trinkets left as a trail. But a trail to what? To Lawler's five possibilities.More, it is the refreshing realization, that after science has been exhausted, our imaginative hunches are not far off target. Virginia Dare may or may not have lived a In 'The Secret Token', Andrew Lawler takes us on the scenic route--no short cuts, just every dead end in the search for concrete evidence, but oh, what a ride. Four centuries of characters appearing and reappearing, with theories, hunches, and swamps of trinkets left as a trail. But a trail to what? To Lawler's five possibilities.More, it is the refreshing realization, that after science has been exhausted, our imaginative hunches are not far off target. Virginia Dare may or may not have lived a full life, but she lives still in a landscape of hypostasis. She is the Anastasia of Roanoke, or the Elvis at the gas station. She lives in our imaginations. And Lawler has helped keep her there. If there is a 'secret token' to this book, it is that we are all pretty much the same. We've come too far, around too many genealogical bends to find ourselves a pure race. We are all races, at least in the DNA of this country.
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  • Caitie
    January 1, 1970
    The Lost Colony of Roanoke has always fascinated me. It’s amazing how a group of people could just vanish off the face of the earth. Obviously there are theories about what actually happened to them, they were either killed or assimilated with the local Indians (in recent years there have even been speculation that they were abducted by aliens). However there is no real evidence to prove any of these things. The colony has become a slightly bizarre historical footnote. John White, the leader of The Lost Colony of Roanoke has always fascinated me. It’s amazing how a group of people could just vanish off the face of the earth. Obviously there are theories about what actually happened to them, they were either killed or assimilated with the local Indians (in recent years there have even been speculation that they were abducted by aliens). However there is no real evidence to prove any of these things. The colony has become a slightly bizarre historical footnote. John White, the leader of of the colony venture, didn’t seem terribly concerned about the colonists even though his daughter and granddaughter were among the missing. It literally started raining and he decided to call off the search. For a guy who was supposedly responsible for these people he didn’t care very much, and didn’t come back for three years (which wasn’t entirely his fault, but still). Anyway, the author points out that we’ll probably never truly know what happened because it’s been too long.
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  • Ionia
    January 1, 1970
    When I first saw this book, I thought..."Oh. Another Roanoke book." To my surprise and delight, this is anything but 'just another Roanoke book.' The incredible amount of research and detail that went into this book is obvious from the moment you begin reading it. Rather than just diving straight into the mystery of the missing colony as so many authors have done before, this author carefully examines what happened, how it all started and explains for the reader the how and why that generally ge When I first saw this book, I thought..."Oh. Another Roanoke book." To my surprise and delight, this is anything but 'just another Roanoke book.' The incredible amount of research and detail that went into this book is obvious from the moment you begin reading it. Rather than just diving straight into the mystery of the missing colony as so many authors have done before, this author carefully examines what happened, how it all started and explains for the reader the how and why that generally gets lost in the more sensational accounts of these events. I was greatly impressed by all the information this book clarifies for the audience and how the author handled the various theories on what happened so long ago and why it may have happened. The book is written sensibly and logically, but also in a manner that is truly engaging and makes the reader want to know more about the subject. Fascinating and absorbing, this is a book that I would recommend to scholars and the general public alike. A great starting point for anyone wanting to know more about early American colonisation. This review based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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  • Amanda Roa
    January 1, 1970
    A historical page turner. Looking back at the complex story of The Lost Colony was riveting. I was only vaguely aware of the story until this book. Well written, well researched and thoroughly reviewed from all angles, I would recommend this account of early American history to anyone interested in how those early days shaped our American society. The chapter on Virginia Dare and how various groups have romanticized her and used her as an iconic symbol to represent their particular views was esp A historical page turner. Looking back at the complex story of The Lost Colony was riveting. I was only vaguely aware of the story until this book. Well written, well researched and thoroughly reviewed from all angles, I would recommend this account of early American history to anyone interested in how those early days shaped our American society. The chapter on Virginia Dare and how various groups have romanticized her and used her as an iconic symbol to represent their particular views was especially insightful.
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  • Sandra
    January 1, 1970
    Incredibly well written and researched. I definitely recommend this for anyone who has even a passing interest in Roanoke.
  • Dree
    January 1, 1970
    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 sea 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, more 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.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Fabulous! The author takes you on his search in an attempt to untangle the mystery of what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. He looks at the history of the Colony, theories of other historians, hoaxes, and experts on related subjects. Excellent and occasionally humorous writing. Loved it!!
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  • Eve
    January 1, 1970
    This was a well written and comprehensive history of the Roanoke colony and the search for it. It provides extensive background information on colonialism and the search.
  • Graham
    January 1, 1970
    I admit to knowing nothing about the subject matter before I read this, but then sometimes that's the best way. THE SECRET TOKEN is a non-fiction documentation of the 'Lost Colony' legend of Roanoke; namely a group of Elizabethan settlers who vanished from Roanoke island in the three-year period it took British explorers to return to the area. The book is very much set up as providing answers to this enduring mystery, but I found it disappointingly vague and superficial.The first half of the boo I admit to knowing nothing about the subject matter before I read this, but then sometimes that's the best way. THE SECRET TOKEN is a non-fiction documentation of the 'Lost Colony' legend of Roanoke; namely a group of Elizabethan settlers who vanished from Roanoke island in the three-year period it took British explorers to return to the area. The book is very much set up as providing answers to this enduring mystery, but I found it disappointingly vague and superficial.The first half of the book recounts the well-known historical adventure, repeating it twice for some reason, but nonetheless this is the most interesting, academic-feeling part of the story. Later on, Lawler travels around interviewing local people and seeking archaeological evidence, as well as exploring museum documents and the like. He never finds anything concrete, only sharing some increasingly bizarre explanations, seeming to attract kooks and discredited figures wherever he goes. I found an inordinate amount of pages given over to open fakery and charlatans, perhaps done to pad out the book a little. It doesn't add up to very much come the end, and I admit to feeling rather let down as a result.
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  • ImLisaAnn
    January 1, 1970
    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.SynopsisIn 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 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.SynopsisIn 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.StructureLawler 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 IdentityMy 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.RecommendedAs 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.NotesPublished: June 5, 2018 by Doubleday (@doubledaybooks)Author: Andrew LawlerDate read: May 30, 2018Rating: 3 ¾ starsMore reviews at www.lisaanreads.com
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  • Kristin
    January 1, 1970
    I finally finished this book last night. It was terrible. Which obviously needs explanation. As someone who studied early (EARLY) American colonialism as a sort of sub-focus for my history degree, and took a course specifically about Roanoke and Jamestown, I was so excited to see this cross my desk at work. I added it to my to-read list immediately and put it on hold at the library, where it was still in processing. I was the first person to get it, and devoured the first of three sections the b I finally finished this book last night. It was terrible. Which obviously needs explanation. As someone who studied early (EARLY) American colonialism as a sort of sub-focus for my history degree, and took a course specifically about Roanoke and Jamestown, I was so excited to see this cross my desk at work. I added it to my to-read list immediately and put it on hold at the library, where it was still in processing. I was the first person to get it, and devoured the first of three sections the book is split into because, what did it promise me? but new insights into the mystery! This first section was dedicated to what we know of the voyages to Roanoke and those left there from primary sources, which is not altogether that much, though thank goodness for White's drawings and watercolours. A little bit of this section was out of chronological order, which I can't stand because I think chronologically, but overall I was impressed with the research and the narrative. The second part, which dragged on and on and on, is devoted to all the "leads" on the Lost Colonists over the intervening centuries - which all but one turn out to be hoaxes, and even that one may be as well. It's important to discuss that mythos of these people, these voyages, the foundation of (English) Europeans in America, but to be promised new insight and led down rabbit holes again and again (once again, not in a strict chronological order, and with many asides) felt like pointless reading. In half the pages a similar summation could have been made. The third and final section explores how the myth of the Lost Colonists has taken shape and persisted over time - from the way Virginia Dare has been used to market different items to exploring different Native American Tribes that do, or do not, believe they are descended from the Lost Colonists (or a mix of Lost Colonists, Native Americans, and Africans). This again drew a lot of my attention as I am interested in cultural repercussions (more so than Southern men digging things up and then refusing to work with other people or organizations to determine their authenticity, which happened time and time again). But, it remained repetitive and I felt that the messages could have been relayed in fewer pages, fewer words. It's not even that Lawler's prose is indirect, because it isn't: it's more that he is incessantly repetitive. From someone who was funded largely by National Geographic and writes for them, I expected more. In the end, we do have a new synthesis of thoughts and ideas, interviews with dozens of scholars, archaeologists, and amateurs who were never written about together before. But as Lawler becomes more and more obsessed with the mystery, the entire endeavor seems more amateurish, and I would not recommend this book to anyone, unless you only planned to skim it.
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  • RJ McGill
    January 1, 1970
    I have had what I will call a passing interest in the story of "The Lost Colony." Since writing a book report about it in 7th grade, if I happened across a book, sometimes I read it, sometimes I didn't. I'm glad I did not pass over this one. You will be too.The disappearance of the first 115 men, women, and children attempting to form a colony in the new world has never been definitively explained. With a single word, Croatoan, carved into a tree, the colonists carved themselves not only a place I have had what I will call a passing interest in the story of "The Lost Colony." Since writing a book report about it in 7th grade, if I happened across a book, sometimes I read it, sometimes I didn't. I'm glad I did not pass over this one. You will be too.The disappearance of the first 115 men, women, and children attempting to form a colony in the new world has never been definitively explained. With a single word, Croatoan, carved into a tree, the colonists carved themselves not only a place in history, but also cultural and historical infamy. Lawler traces some 428 years of ideas, myths, hoaxes, faked artifacts, and so on. He shares everything from the reasonable to the absolutely absurd. His stylish characterization of the main players breathes life into an old story. . .Even for those with no particular interest in the Lost Colony can enjoy this well researched, historical mystery. Maybe the reason the story of "The Lost Colony" will not go away is because the final chapter has yet to be written. Andrew Lawler hasn't penned the definitive answer in "The Secret Token," so the story ends again without closure. But his story will tease your mystery solving senses and you just might get bit by the Lost Colony obsession.Happy Reading!
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    Andrew Lawler manages to take a subject I had a passing interest in and drag me into the world of mystery and obsession that is the hunt for the Lost Colonists. The book is laid out well, beginning with a thorough primer on colonization and what we know about Roanoke, then going to the various search attempts (including his own) and concluding with musings on why we even care about solving this puzzle.What stuck out to me was Lawler's choice to describe various archaeologists, geologists, histor Andrew Lawler manages to take a subject I had a passing interest in and drag me into the world of mystery and obsession that is the hunt for the Lost Colonists. The book is laid out well, beginning with a thorough primer on colonization and what we know about Roanoke, then going to the various search attempts (including his own) and concluding with musings on why we even care about solving this puzzle.What stuck out to me was Lawler's choice to describe various archaeologists, geologists, historians and others who have spent time on the trail as the characters they were. Rather than summarizing their theories and work, he brings them to life as part of his quest to find out what draws people to become obsessed with Roanoke.I can't say if there are any major revelations on the mystery for anyone who knows more about it, but the structure and style alone should make this book worth a try!
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  • Lissa
    January 1, 1970
    Like the author, I grew up vacationing every summer in the Outer Banks and every summer my family attended the outdoor performance of the Lost Colony play.  This may be why I was so invested and fascinated by this book.  Beginning with the actual history of the settlers, courtiers, and monarchs involved it then delves into the incredible history since their disappearance which includes some incredibly quirky individuals who became obsessed with the mystery.  The author, with caveats, takes a sta Like the author, I grew up vacationing every summer in the Outer Banks and every summer my family attended the outdoor performance of the Lost Colony play.  This may be why I was so invested and fascinated by this book.  Beginning with the actual history of the settlers, courtiers, and monarchs involved it then delves into the incredible history since their disappearance which includes some incredibly quirky individuals who became obsessed with the mystery.  The author, with caveats, takes a stab at solving the mystery himself and his theory feels like the most common sense of the bunch.  This is a really interesting look at early American colonial history and what its lingering interest says about the formation of our society.  I received a digital ARC of this book through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 
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  • Michael Ritchie
    January 1, 1970
    (3-1/2 stars) I knew nothing about the mysteries surrounding the colony of Roanoke (100 settlers seem to have vanished leaving no trace behind except for a signal indicating they might have sought refuge on Croatoan Island) until I read this book. The first third of the book (The Planting) in which the author lays out what we know about the origins of the colony and how it was established is quite informative, with some good biographical background of people like Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, a (3-1/2 stars) I knew nothing about the mysteries surrounding the colony of Roanoke (100 settlers seem to have vanished leaving no trace behind except for a signal indicating they might have sought refuge on Croatoan Island) until I read this book. The first third of the book (The Planting) in which the author lays out what we know about the origins of the colony and how it was established is quite informative, with some good biographical background of people like Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, and the Croatoan Indian Mateo. The last third (The Revelation) in which Lawler tries his best to explain what might have happened, is interesting. But the tedious middle third (The Search) reads like a series incredibly long New Yorker profiles of the various people over the years who have gotten involved in trying to solve the mystery of the colony. Skip the middle and read the rest.
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  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    The Secret Token by Andrew Lawler is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early June.Ooh, Roanoke - this topic/mystery really appealed to me during U.S. history class to the extent that it seemed like a dark shadow or Bermuda Triangle over colonial America. However, the actual history of Roanoke Island, the exploration by the Dutch/Spanish/English/Italians, and relations between the colonists and the Algonquian/Lumbee/Croatan is only told until the 25-30% mark - from then on, it's speculative t The Secret Token by Andrew Lawler is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early June.Ooh, Roanoke - this topic/mystery really appealed to me during U.S. history class to the extent that it seemed like a dark shadow or Bermuda Triangle over colonial America. However, the actual history of Roanoke Island, the exploration by the Dutch/Spanish/English/Italians, and relations between the colonists and the Algonquian/Lumbee/Croatan is only told until the 25-30% mark - from then on, it's speculative theory, misguided retellings from George Bancroft & John Smith, phases of archaeological findings with different degrees of accuracy and technological assistance, and Lawler interviewing people with an interest, stake, or genealogical tie to the area.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoyable, readable, and reliable. Lawler does a review of the facts that anyone who has read about the Lost Colony knows, but then he goes on to examine them in terms of politics and global trade, greed and self-interest of the parties, and other human factors. He examines the research, including debunked myths and legends and the reasons they arose in the first place. Finally, he applies Occam’s razor and through it, propounds his theory. A wonderful read.
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  • Gerard Villegas
    January 1, 1970
    Damn, I was hoping for Lady Gaga to go all Scathach up in this bitch! But instead I got the real history and hypothesis of the Lost Colony of Roanoke instead. Oh well, I'm still hoping for Virginia Dare to have a Bad Romance.
  • Chaser
    January 1, 1970
    I felt like I was accompanying Andrew Lawler on this amazing investigation. The clues, the characters, and history were all so tantalizing!
  • gnarlyhiker
    January 1, 1970
    interesting. 3.5
  • Camina
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting more information than I could ever ask for.
  • Scott MacDonald
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting documentary of search for what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Was a bit long and slow in spots but of interest to anyone who enjoys colonial American history.
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