Summary and book reviews of New World, Inc. by John Butman

New World, Inc.

The Making of America by England's Merchant Adventurers

by John Butman, Simon Targett

New World, Inc. by John Butman, Simon Targett X
New World, Inc. by John Butman, Simon Targett
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  • Published:
    Mar 2018, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rose Rankin

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Book Summary

Three generations of English merchant adventurers--not the Pilgrims, as we have so long believed--were the earliest founders of America. Profit-not piety-was their primary motive.

Some seventy years before the Mayflower sailed, a small group of English merchants formed "The Mysterie, Company, and Fellowship of Merchant Adventurers for the Discovery of Regions, Dominions, Islands, and Places Unknown," the world's first joint-stock company. Back then, in the mid-sixteenth century, England was a small and relatively insignificant kingdom on the periphery of Europe, and it had begun to face a daunting array of social, commercial, and political problems. Struggling with a single export - woolen cloth - the merchants were forced to seek new markets and trading partners, especially as political discord followed the straitened circumstances in which so many English people found themselves.

At first they headed east, and dreamed of Cathay-China, with its silks and exotic luxuries. Eventually, they turned west, and so began a new chapter in world history. The work of reaching the New World required the very latest in navigational science as well as an extraordinary appetite for risk. As this absorbing account shows, innovation and risk-taking were at the heart of the settlement of America, as was the profit motive. Trade and business drove English interest in America, and determined what happened once their ships reached the New World.

The result of extensive archival work and a bold interpretation of the historical record, New World, Inc. draws a portrait of life in London, on the Atlantic, and across the New World that offers a fresh analysis of the founding of American history. In the tradition of the best works of history that make us reconsider the past and better understand the present, Butman and Targett examine the enterprising spirit that inspired European settlement of America and established a national culture of entrepreneurship and innovation that continues to this day.

The Prequel to the Pilgrims

On May 6, 1621, the Mayflower returned to England from the fledgling American colony of New Plymouth. In the eight months since the little ship left the English coast behind, the seventy investors that had bankrolled the voyage--mostly London merchants--had not received a scrap of news about the fate of their venture. Now, as the ship's master, Christopher Jones, eased the Mayflower into its dockage at Rotherhithe, an ancient landing place two miles down the Thames from London that had become a huddle of boatyards, sailors' cottages, and merchants' warehouses, the financial backers eagerly awaited news about the one thing they cared about most: what saleable cargo the ship had brought back from the New World. Perhaps it carried oak timbers for shipbuilding and barrel-making. Perhaps it contained cedar, which was much prized for the construction of exquisite dining-room furniture. Perhaps there might be great bundles of sassafras, ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

When we think about the founding of America, we typically envision Pilgrims in black garb and boxy hats, sailing bravely to an untouched landscape where they could worship free from persecution. Yet as John Butman and Simon Targett show in New World, Inc., the Pilgrims were far from being trailblazing colonists. The authors bring to life forgotten and overlooked explorers and they demonstrate that profit, not religious freedom, acted as the driving force for colonization.

With a conversational tone the authors bring a much-needed perspective to the accepted mythology around America's founding. It may not line up with exactly what we were taught as schoolchildren, but it's a story about people seeking prosperity—American through and through.   (Reviewed by Rose Rankin).

Full Review Members Only (726 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Butman and Targett are fluent storytellers with an eye for detail.

Kirkus Reviews
A lively and illuminating revisionist history.

Library Journal
Starred Review. This engrossing history of adventure and innovation, disclosing the true motive for America's founding, will appeal to all readers.

Author Blurb Bhu Srinivasan, author of Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism
Skillfully told, this compelling book elevates the overlooked economic motivations behind the first American settlements to their proper place in history.

Author Blurb Antoine Van Agtmael, author of The Smartest Places on Earth
New World Inc paints a fascinating portrait of personal daring and bold risk taking, of deceit and court intrigue, of murder, greed, loss of life, cunning, disappointment and unexpected success. It is a captivating read.

Author Blurb Liaquat Ahamed, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Lords of Finance
Brilliantly researched and vividly told, New World Inc will give you a totally new perspective on the history of the founding of this country.

Author Blurb Larrie D. Ferreiro, author of Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It
Part business history, part swashbuckling adventurer's tale, New World Inc shows us that America was founded, not as an idealistic city upon a hill, but as the result of intense competition between well-funded companies looking to capitalize on the Next Big Thing ... A fascinating read.

Author Blurb Bhu Srinivasan, author of Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism
Skillfully told, this compelling book elevates the overlooked economic motivations behind the first American settlements to their proper place in history.

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Beyond the Book

Elizabeth I and Royal Intrigues

Elizabeth I was a cautious but crucial supporter of the initial English voyages to the Americas, where merchants and explorers hoped to develop lucrative trade routes, as described in New World, Inc.

Queen Elizabeth was one of the most competent monarchs of the early modern period, and she led England through the transition from minor kingdom to world power. She is rightly regarded as one of England's finest rulers, but it didn't start out that way. In fact, her coronation seemed extremely unlikely when she was young.

Princess Elizabeth I The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she was removed from the succession shortly after her mother's execution. Henry's obsession with fathering a male heir eventually resulted in a son, and so Elizabeth's ...

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