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January 12, 2009


Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony
Lee Miller – ISBN – 9780142002285

How long have many of us—including scholars--wondered about the first American colony? Roanoke Island was laid out in 1585 as a military base on a well hidden island within the outer banks of the Carolinas. It was settled in 1587 and promptly vanished. No evidence exists but the remains of the primitive fort. Everything brought by the settlers disappeared, as did the settlers themselves. Not a temporary shelter, a shipping crate, not even a nail was found on later explorations, let alone graves or skeletal remains. Why? How? Whom? Where?

Miller undertakes an exhaustive review of the known facts and the implicit chicanery involving the sponsor, Sir Walter Raleigh, his enemies in high places, and the colonists--who were pawns in planned disaster followed by a gigantic cover-up. She uncovers the CABAL responsible. The colonists were intentionally abandoned. Subsequent attempts at rescue were prevented by powers within the English government.

She begins with a narrative about the disappearance, and promptly shifts to the mystery, writing the book as a murder investigation. She discovered the fact that investigations had been blocked or prevented. She found that members of the contemporary government knew. They’d planned the whole thing. The period and its actors are revealed in detail, and the plot identified. Raleigh, the handsome, brilliant “upstart” within the court of Queen Elizabeth I, and her most favored acolyte, was much loathed by people who had worked for years to gain her attention. He became a confidant, lover, and person of incredible influence—attended by wealth—much to the chagrin of others. Only four men could have sabotaged his endeavor. Which one, and why?

One at a time she explains how and why each of the four might have been involved, ultimately eliminating three, leaving one of the most powerful and devious men in the Elizabethan realm. He was the guilty party, and with his influence intimidated others to participate and/or cover it up. She studies it, exposes it, and leaves the reader with no doubt, noting that many years after the death of the prime conspirator, Raleigh was executed in the Tower of London after the death of Elizabeth, his prime protector.

There is an almost seamless segue from scene to scene. The story is electrifying as she exposes what never was a mystery, though it had been masked for 400 years by the plotting of those involved. Centuries were involved because no one ever took a hard look. Miller did.

She concludes--and proves--that the colonials did not simply disappear; most actually survived. She accounts for them. For those who like history and mystery, this is a fascinating book. Her endeavor exposes the corruption and venality of those involved, and the incredible misfortune of the victims who had been promised a colony in the Chesapeake Bay. They never arrived there, having been deposited—on purpose—on an island on which they were expected to perish.

(Incidentally, she provides the simplest explanation of the Puritan Revolution which I have ever read.)

Posted by respeto at January 12, 2009 11:40 AM