The Island at the Center of the World

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Apr 12, 2005 - History - 416 pages
27 Reviews
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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nx74defiant - LibraryThing

I didn't know much about the Dutch settler's in Manhattan. I was interested because of my Dutch American ancestors. So much of what we consider "American" ideals came from the Dutch. Yes the Puritans ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MiaCulpa - LibraryThing

Like the vast majority of the world, it seems, I had but a meagre knowledge of Dutch Manhattan. "The Island at the Center of the World" certainly brought me up to speed on it somewhat but as a non ... Read full review

Contents

THE MISSING FLOOR
5
A CERTAIN ISLAND NAMED MAN AT HANS 1 The Measure of Things
13
The Pollinator 3 The Island
37
The King the Surgeon the Turk and the Whore
67
CLASH OF WILLS 5 The Lawman
93
The Council of Blood
111
The Cause
129
The OneLegged Man
146
An American in Europe
209
A Dangerous Man
233
THE INHERITANCE 13 Booming
257
New York
284
Inherited Features
301
THE PAPER TRAIL NOTES
319
BIBLIOGRAPHY
326
IND
373

The General and the Princess
167
The Peoples Champion
191

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About the author (2005)

Russell Shorto is the author of five books and is a contributing writer at the The New York Times Magazine. His books have been published in fourteen languages and have won numerous awards. From 2008 to 2013, he was the director of the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam.

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