The Island at the Center of the World

The Island at the Center of the World

The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

Paperback - 2005
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A gripping narrative of New Netherland-a story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan-that transforms our understanding of early America.

When the British wrested New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the truth about its thriving, polyglot society began to disappear into myths about an island purchased for 24 dollars and a cartoonish peg-legged governor. But the story of the Dutch colony of New Netherland was merely lost, not destroyed: 12,000 pages of its records-recently declared a national treasure-are now being translated. Russell Shorto draws on this remarkable archive in The Island at the Center of the World , which has been hailed by The New York Times as "a book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past."

The Dutch colony pre-dated the "original" thirteen colonies, yet it seems strikingly familiar. Its capital was cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, and its citizens valued free trade, individual rights, and religious freedom. Their champion was a progressive, young lawyer named Adriaen van der Donck, who emerges in these pages as a forgotten American patriot and whose political vision brought him into conflict with Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic director of the Dutch colony. The struggle between these two strong-willed men laid the foundation for New York City and helped shape American culture. The Island at the Center of the World uncovers a lost world and offers a surprising new perspective on our own.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books/Random House, 2005.
Edition: 1st Vintage Books ed.
ISBN: 9781400078677
Characteristics: xiv, 384 p, [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 21 cm.


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Feb 27, 2017

A yawner until about the 3rd chapter, after which I fell asleep and never finished the book.

Apr 08, 2016

A good book on a critical and little understood part of our history as a nation. I enjoyed the rich context of the background of dramatic European history as well as fresh insight into Native American involvement. Enjoyable and eye-opening.

Mar 09, 2015

The best book on the Dutch period in Manhattan.

Feb 04, 2014

an interesting look at Dutch New York and its influence on the growth of New York City.


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