cover image A Brave and Cunning Prince: The Great Chief Opechancanough and the War for America

A Brave and Cunning Prince: The Great Chief Opechancanough and the War for America

James Horn. Basic, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-465-03890-9

Horn (1619), president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, delivers an immersive portrait of Opechancanough (c. 1547–1646), who helped build the powerful Powhatan chiefdom in America. Horn contends that Opechancanough was the same “princely young Indian” known as Paquiquineo who was kidnapped from the Chesapeake Bay region in 1561 and taken to Spain, where he was renamed Don Luís de Valasco. A Catholic convert, Don Luís traveled to Cuba, Florida, and Mexico before returning to the Chesapeake Bay to help establish a Jesuit mission in 1570. Shortly after his arrival, however, he left for his home village, where he organized a war party that killed the priests and destroyed the mission. He then helped his brother Chief Powhatan consolidate Native tribes along the East Coast to counter the European threat, and, in 1622, following a series of devastating raids on Jamestown, came “very close” to driving the English settlers—who knew him as Opechancanough—out of Virginia. Horn recounts Pocahontas’s marriage to John Rolfe and other famous events at Jamestown, and vividly describes brutal clashes between Powhatan warriors and English settlers before Opechancanough was captured and killed in 1646. Though Horn’s case that Paquiquineo/Don Luís and Opechancanough are the same person requires a good bit of speculation (he would have been close to 100 when killed), he builds a cogent narrative out of documentary fragments. Early American history buffs will be riveted. (Nov.)