Within a generation of Columbus’s first landfall in the Caribbean, Spain ruled an empire in central and south America many times the size of the home country.
In stark contrast, after a century of struggle, and numerous disasters, English colonising efforts further north had succeeded in settling the banks of one waterway and the littoral of several bays.
How and why progress was so slow and laborious is the central theme of this thought-provoking new book.
It argues that this is best understood if the development of the English colonies is seen as a protracted amphibious operation, governed by all the factors that traditionally make for success or failure in such endeavours – aspects such as proper reconnaissance, establishing a secure bridgehead and timely reinforcement.
Invading America examines the vessels and the voyages, the unrealistic ambitions of their promoters, the nature of the conflict with the native Indians, and the lack of leadership and cooperation that was so essential for success.
Using documentary evidence and vivid first-hand accounts, it describes from a new perspective the often tragic, sometimes heroic, attempts to settle on the American coast and suggests why these so often ended in failure.
As this book shows, the emergence of a powerful United States was neither inevitable nor easily achieved.