“A fascinating account of one of our country’s great historical mysteries. Fast-paced and wonderfully written, with plenty of surprising turns along the way, The Secret Token is a delight.”–Nathaniel Philbrick
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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.
Andrew Lawler is the author of the highly acclaimed Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?. He is a contributing writer for Science, a contributing editor for Archaeology Magazine, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Slate.