The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke

The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke

by Andrew Lawler


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*National Bestseller*

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385542012
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 265,990
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Andrew Lawler is author of two books, The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke, a national bestseller, and the widely acclaimed Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?: The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization. As a journalist, he has written more than a thousand newspaper and magazine articles, and his byline has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and many others. He is a contributing writer for Science and a contributing editor for Archaeology. Andrew’s work has appeared several times in The Best of Science and Nature Writing. For more, see

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Chapter One

Excerpted from "The Secret Token"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Andrew Lawler.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Cast of Characters xi

Prelude xv

Introduction: The Terror Within 5

Part 1 The Planting

Chapter 1 Some Delicate Garden 17

Chapter 2 All Signs of Joy 35

Chapter 3 Firing Invisible Bullets 53

Chapter 4 Small Things Flourish by Concord 79

Part 2 The Search

Chapter 5 A Whole Country of English 107

Chapter 6 Child of Science and Slow Time 135

Chapter 7 A Four-Hundred-Year-Old Cover-Up 161

Chapter 8 Pot of Brass 185

Chapter 9 Rejoicing in Things Stark Naughty 207

Chapter 10 We Dare Anything 231

Chapter 11 Heap Plenty Wampum 251

Part 3 The Revelation

Chapter 12 Who's Afraid of Virginia Dare? 275

Chapter 13 Swamp Saints and Renegades 301

Chapter 14 Return to Roanoke 321

Chapter 15 An Old Buck Christmas 347

Coda: A Brave Kingdom 363

Acknowledgments 369

Notes 371

Bibliography 391

Index 411

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