Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781780221038

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‘Marvellously engaging’ The Times
‘Brisk, informative and eye-opening’ Daily Telegraph

In the 1600s, vast numbers of people left England for the Americas. Crossing the Atlantic was a major undertaking, the voyage long and treacherous. Why did they go?

Emigrants casts vivid new light on the population shift which underpins the rise of modern America. Using contemporary sources including diaries, court hearings and letters, James Evans brings us the extraordinary personal stories of the men and women who made the journey of a lifetime.


Why this book is such a gripping and enjoyable read is that Evans does not focus on the great and the good of history, but on the ordinary men, women, and children who migrated, with their hopes, fears, and desperation. Through primary sources of diaries, court hearings, and letters, Evans tells their stories, which sometimes inspire you with their heroism, and sometimes make you weep over their tragedies ... In a lucid, well-written, and solidly researched analysis, he teases out the mixed and complicated reasons that so many people were compelled to make the risky sea voyage to a perilous wilderness
The Ven. Dr Lyle Dennen, CHURCH TIMES
With great vigour, Evans transports us back to this time of America's earliest immigrants. Many had already migrated across England, before landing in London and then heading off in search of a fresh start across the ocean. In this thought-provoking book, Evans uses contemporary sources, such as diaries, court records and letters, to cast vivid new light on a historic population shift, bringing to life the stories of English emigrants and their colonisation of the New World. All proving, perhaps, that mass migration is nothing new
Emigrants is an intriguing idea for a book and one which James Evans has executed masterfully. His prose is highly readable, shedding light on just why so many people bravely sought to start a new life in a region which, as contemporaries admitted, was 'not yet perfectly discovered'
What led a person in 17th-century England to get on a ship bound for the Americas? James Evans attempts to answer that question by exploring both the push and pull factors involved ... His descriptions are vivid ... and he relates in a readable style the lives of people who chose to make the journey
Katrina Gulliver, THE SPECTATOR
Engaging ... Evans is vivid on the risks of going to a land that, for a good portion of the century, had little to recommend it ... Brisk, informative and ... eye-opening ... A fascinating book that gives real insight into the age that birthed the modern West
Otto von Bismarck was once asked to identify the pre-eminent fact in modern world history. That America spoke English, he replied. In Emigrants, James Evans attempts to explain how and why that happened ... Evans' book is an eloquent testimony to the fact that the commodity America has always traded in, above all others, is hope
James Evans has written a marvellously engaging and comprehensive account of this ambitious undertaking and the men and women who accomplished it, often with the odds stacked against them. Here he tells the exciting, sometimes heartbreaking stories of the pioneers and explains what kind of world they dreamt of creating. It was one in which individual liberty and freedom was cherished: both became part of the modern American mindset
Lawrence James, THE TIMES
A vivid and thoughtful take on the ways that the hopes and concerns of many, often ordinary, English people contributed to their burgeoning empire