The Island at the Centre of the World: The Untold Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Founding of New York

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Black Swan, 2005 - Dutch Americans - 506 pages
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Based on new documents just translated from C17th Dutch, this book tells the story of how a wilderness island populated by wolves, wild strawberries and native Indians, situated on a perfect natural harbour at the mouth of a great river leading into the centre of a new continent, became the crucial prize in a conflict between the Dutch and English about who would control the recently discovered American continent. This is the pageturning story of the early years of Manhattan under Dutch rule, with at its heart a battle between men who would be its leader, the autocratic despot Stuyvesant, and the liberal-minded lawyer Van den Donck. It is Russel Shorto's theory that the attitudes of the original Dutch settlers led to the free-trade, multi-cultural, upwardly-mobile 'melting pot' of New York, and that Van den Donck was the first to identify the principles of liberty and democracy that ended up underpinning the US contstitution.

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