Simon Targett’s latest book , New World Inc, which he co – authored with John Butman is a masterful examination of how 16th Century England found itself in a precarious position, politically, socially and economically—and the desire and need that grew from these problems to expand its influence across the globe. It’s the incredibly crazy story of the birth of modern America. With such colourful characters as Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Elizabeth 1st and Pocahontas, the book has been described as ‘part history, part swashbuckling adventurers’ tale….a fascinating read’.
Not only is Simon an author, and historian, he also held several senior positions at the Financial Times, as well as the first global Editor in Chief of The Boston Consulting Group and now is founder and Director of Thinking Cap Communications, a PR consultancy here in London.
As you listen to our conversation, you will find some themes that resonate across the centuries, from fractious relations with our European neighbours, pursuing new trade relations with America, and even climate change. So, settle down and strap yourself in for a wonderfully crazy journey.
Oh, and by the way, Simon will be giving away a signed copy of his book. All you have to do is go to Twitter and post to me at Your London Legacy that you heard the episode with Simon Targett and #NewWorldinc.
This is Your London Legacy.
“Sir Walter Raleigh – he did a lot of his planning of his future colony here, pretty much where we are sitting now.”
In America the voyage of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower is almost like a creation story –and it was that really that prompted Simon and his co-author John Butman to investigate it further. Partly due to how the Pilgrims were very religion centered, but America is now known more for its entrepreneurial spirit—Silicone Valley and Elon Musk heading to Mars and the like. Simon’s love for history was nurtured at an early age while visiting exhibits and museums as a kid – a love that carried him through a degree at Sussex and into the three years of research and writing that went into New World Inc.
The idea of America now can be traced back to the 1550’s with merchants and who Simon has named the Forgotten Founders. It’s their view that these founders should be put in the same bracket as the Pilgrims with their lasting impact and culture and economics in the New World.
“Jamestown – they were the first people to really live the American dream. The idea that you can start with nothing but through hard work and diligence earn the fruits of your labor.”
The tale of the New World is nothing short of a swashbuckling adventure complete with silk trade, pirates, ship wrecks on Bermuda and abandoned pigs, silver, tobacco, and a mystery that persists to this day of the vanished colony of Roanoke. It extends further to Pocahontas and the Pilgrims – trade and wars and even a changing climate, for without the ice blocking the passage to China trade may have never flourished in America at all.
It is a fascinating story that Simon and John have re contextualized after swimming through onsite archives and the web, and it’s astounding how much of the dynamics of this tale are echoing today. I can’t recommend the read enough – and again, please post to me on Twitter @London_Podcast to win a generously donated and signed copy by Simon himself.