The Secret Token-An Amazing Look at What Happened to The Lost Colony

Andrew Lawler's The Secret Token.
Andrew Lawler’s The Secret Token.

There is a new book out on the Lost Colony and it may be the most comprehensive study of the fate of the 115 colonists that has been published.

Andrew Lawler’s The Secret Token, Myth, Obsession and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke, is an amazing book that manages to incorporate elements of a a mystery or spy novel into a book filled with a detailed study of the history of the Lost Colony and why—and how—it has to hold such a dominant place in the American psyche.

Lawler is a journalist and science writer, and his style reflects that. There is very little opinion about conclusions, rather fact upon fact is layered in dizzying quantity.

History Comes to Life

The Secret Token is divided into three sections—the story of the Lost Colony, the geo-political situation in Europe in 1585-1590, and the efforts to discover the fate of the colonists

Lawlers ability to take an astonishing quantity of factual information and create a well-written—even compelling—book is remarkable.

He remarks, at one point, that the Lost Colony had to be lost and not a failed attempt at colonizing the new world. And, as Lawler writes, that did not happen until until the 1830s when George Bancroft a Harvard trained historian wrote A History of the United States.

Bancroft had visited Germany before writing his book and he was swept up in the romantic philosophy that seemed to grip Germany at that time.

Virginia Dare became the first white child born in the New World, a symbol of purity and innocence surrounded by savages.

Lawler goes into considerable detail about Simon Fernandes, the ship’s pilot who directed the operation of the ships. It was Ferandes who insisted upon leaving the colonists on Roanoke Island when the original plan called for the colony to be in what is now Hampton Roads.

Although The Secret Token does not answer why they were left at a poor second location, Lawler’s research demonstrates that Fernandes was firmly in the English camp.

The modern day gathering of archeologists, historians, and quasi-scientists is remarkable, and Lawler describes many of them with an eye for physical description and personality quirks.

It all makes for some great reading and here at Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates we have no problem recommending Andrew Lawler’s The Lost Token.

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