The Pocahontas story has been retold a lot, recently. There are many Pocahontas books, videos, and even a couple of sountrack CDs. There is plenty for children and for older folks like me, especially books. Books are the best way to find out more about the real Pocahontas.
Books - Videos - Music
These Pocahontas books are aimed primarily at a younger audience. (That hasn't stopped me from reading a few myself.) There are biographies, historical fiction, Christian books, and a book about the Powhatan Indians.
The Double Life of Pocahontas by Fritz and RojanovskyThis book tells the life story of Pocahontas, at about the same level as my site. Quite accurate and straightforward. Aimed at the intelligent younger reader, but a good read for grown-ups, too!
Pocahontas by Joseph BruchacThis vivid, detailed historical novel shows the relations between Virginia colonists and the Powhatans, as seen through the perspectives of Captain John Smith and 11-year-old Pocahontas. The point of view alternates between Pocahontas and John Smith with each chapter. Ends when Powhatan adopts Smith into the tribe, (as Pocahontas sees it) or when Pocahontas saves his life (as Smith sees it).
The Powhatan Tribes by Feest and Porter (Editors)How the Powhatans lived, and how Jamestown affected them. Explained in a series of essays, targeted to interested younger readers (or grown-ups who want to get the picture quickly).
Pocahontas: True Princess by Mari HanesEmphasizes the Christian aspect of the Pocahontas story. Her life does lend itself well to this, because after she was captured by a squad from Jamestown and held hostage, leading colonists worked sincerely to educate her and convert her to Christianity. She was a willing and successful student. Her most dedicated Bible instructor was her future husband, John Rolfe. Before the wedding, she was baptised Rebecca.
Two Mighty Rivers: Son of Pocahontas by Mari HanesSequel to the Christian book, Pocahontas: True Princess. The story of her son, young Thomas Pepsicanough Rolfe, and his friend, Jane Poythress. (Jane Poythress/Pierce was the woman he married in real life, to the best of our knowledge.) Covers his youth in Scotland and England, through his return to Virginia, where he reunites with his Algonquin relatives. What is known about Thomas Rolfe would only fill a few pages, so the story is fleshed out with things that could have happened to a young man in his position.
Pocahontas (Childhood of Famous Americans Series) by Leslie GourseEasy reading story of the real Pocahontas, for children 8-11.
The Serpent Never Sleeps by Scott O'DellYou may remember Scott O'Dell, the Newbery award winning author. Aimed at girls aged 11-15, Pocahontas and early Jamestown are brought to life through the eyes of the adolescent heroine, Serina. Serina voyages to Virginia on the same ship as John Rolfe, which is shipwrecked in Bermuda. Finally in Jamestown, she decides to help capture Pocahontas.
These Pocahontas books are for grown-ups. There is Susan Donnell's bestselling novel, Francis Mossiker's biography, the genealogy book of Pocahontas' Descendants, and several scholarly histories of the Powhatan Indians and Jamestown Colony, by Helen Rountree and others. Get your brain cells ready!
Pocahontas by Susan DonnellThis best-selling historical novel was written by a Pocahontas descendant and distant cousin of mine. (Any Pocahontas descendant is a cousin of mine.) She hoped that Disney would base their movie on it; if they had, it would have been a truer story, without losing any romance or adventure.
John Rolfe of Virginia by James TormeyAt last, John Rolfe gets his own historical novel! (Or fictionalized biography, if you prefer.) James Tormey has John Rolfe tell his story in first person narrative of disaster, death, romance, discovery, and adventure. John Rolfe is shipwrecked, loses his wife and child, builds a new life in the New World, marries the legendary Indian princess Pocahontas, and more.
Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed By Jamestown by Helen C. RountreeA triple biography of Pocahontas; her father, chief Powhatan; and her uncle, chief Opechancanough, who ruled after Powhatan's death. Also an ethnohistory of the Powhatan Indians, from 1607, when Jamestown was founded, to 1644, when Opechancanough was killed and the Powhatan Indians defeated.
Pocahontas: The Life and the Legend by Frances MossikerThis biography of Pocahontas takes the position that Pocahontas and John Smith did indeed have a love affair, arguing that Pocahontas was making the transition from late childhood to young womanhood during the short time that Smith knew her.
The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture by Helen C. RountreeAn in-depth look at how the Powhatans lived and what they did before the colonists came. The facts are extensively documented in this well-written and illustrated scholarly work by respected specialist Helen Rountree.
Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries by Helen C. RountreeAn in-depth look at how the Powhatans reacted to the colonists' arrival and coped with their subsequent expansion, and how they have quietly survived to the present day. Most people do not even know that these Native American tribes still exist, but Rountree is intimately familiar with her subject, and passes that knowledge on to you.
Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma (American Portraits Series) by Camilla TownsendA fresh, speculative look at an active and assertive Pocahontas. History with an attitude, that occupies a middle ground between Helen Rountree's ethnohistory (above) and Paula Allen's mythmaking (below).
Pocahontas : Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat by Paula Gunn AllenPocahontas sees the coming of the settlers as the fulfilment of the prophesy of the end of their world and the beginning of a new one. She plunges into a quest to influence the shape of the coming world and her changing self. Not quite history, biography, nor a novel, but mythic narrative. The old romantic myth is here replaced with an equally entertaining and speculative New Age myth.
Powhatan's World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures by Frederic W. GleachGleach uses historical and archaeological evidence to offer a balanced and complete accounting of the tumultuous early years of the Jamestown colony. There, he shows a charged and often violent meeting ground between two very different worlds. He examines historical events from both native and colonial perspectives, resulting in original, fuller interpretations of seventeenth-century Virginia history. Ultimately, Gleach argues that the essential story of Jamestown is how two cultures civilize and incorporate each other.
The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne: An Archaeological and Historical Odyssey by Ivor Noel HumeShows how Roanoake and Jamestown colonies were really one sustained effort to establish the first permanent English colony. Blends modern archaeological finds with historical sources. Illustrated.
Powhatan: Foreign Relations 1500-1722 by Helen C. Rountree (editor)A series of essays by different authors on how the Powhatans interacted with others, from the early expansionist years of increasing power and influence, through the late years of decline and survival in an Anglo world.
Indians of Early Maryland by Harold R. Manakee
The Rise and Fall of the Powhatan Empire: Indians in Seventeenth-century Virginia by James Axtell
Pocahontas' Descendants by Stuart E. Brown, et al.
The genealogical source for Pocahontas researchers. A Revision, Enlargement and Extension of the List as Set Out by Wyndham Robertson in His Book Pocahontas and Her Descendants (1887) Combined with two volumes of corrections and additions. Probably the easiest way to research your own Pocahontas connection. It lists descendants from Pocahontas down to the present. Find out the truth to that family legend: are you descended from Pocahontas, on your mother's father's mother's side?
Original plus 1st and 2nd Vols. of Corrections and Additions 3rd Vol. of Corrections and Additions 4th and 5th Vols. of Corrections and Additions
Pocahontas, Alias Matoaka, and Her Descendants by Rev. Wyndham Robertson (1887)The original 1887 list of Pocahontas descendants, with short biographies of Pocahontas and some of the early descendants. The foundation which the above books revised and extended. Quite a historic gem. Our family has had a copy of this book since it was first published. Now available online, to read or download.
For the adults, there is The New World, and for the whole family, there are the two from Disney: Pocahontas: Colors of the Wind, and Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.Disney's Pocahontas (10th Anniversary Edition)
The New WorldTerrence Mallick renders his vision of the Pocahontas story, with Colin Farrell as Captain John Smith, 14 year old Q'Orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas, Christopher Plummer as Captain Newport, and Christian Bale as John Rolfe. Much closer to history than the Disney version, of course. The pace is very slow and dreamlike. The cinematography is beautiful; it was shot on 65mm film. There is extremely little dialogue, the characters are mainly silent and moody, perhaps to show the language barrier between the two peoples.
A well-done animated musical, very freely adapted from the legend of Pocahontas and John Smith. Or, you could think of it as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, set in the Virginia of Powhatan and Jamestown. All new, all singing, all dancing, bigger and better than ever! The 10th Anniversary 2-DVD edition of Disney's Pocahontas adds a previously deleted Judy Kuhn / Mel Gibson duet, "If I never knew you". (The adults loved it, but the kids wanted to get back to the action.) You can view either the classic or extended versions. The second disc contains additional goodies for the fans. Disney's Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World
The 1998 direct-to video sequel from Disney, also quite freely adapted from the further life of Pocahontas. In it, Pocahontas hears rumors that John Smith is dead, and travels to England on a mission to prevent war between her people and the English. She and dashing diplomat John Rolfe don't exactly hit it off at first, but eventually team up to foil Ratcliffe and save the day. Meantime, whatever did become of John Smith, and who is that mysterious hooded figure? Not what happened in real life, but a well-made video from Disney. Mel Gibson's brother fills in nicely as John Smith, and once again, the songs are dramatically appropriate. Pocahontas: Her True Story
A&E Biography. This is where you will find the true story of Pocahontas on video. A video biography, not an entertainment extravaganza. VHS videotape, not DVD.
Ear and eye candy. The best part of the movie anyway? Your child can sing along happily with these terrific music video productions. VHS videotape, not DVD.
The New World SoundtrackDuring much of "The New World", the characters wordlessly explored love, loss, and discovery, to the strains of this music by James Horner. (Mr. Horner has also composed soundtracks for "Titanic", "Braveheart", "The Legend Of Zorro", "Troy", "A Beautiful Mind", and "Apollo 13".)
28 hot tracks, featuring "The Colors of the Wind", both as sung by Judy Kuhn (singing voice of Pocahontas) and by Vanessa Williams (pop diva and former Miss America).