The Island at the Center of the World

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Apr 12, 2005 - History - 416 pages
4 Reviews
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. Drawing on this remarkable archive, Russell Shorto has created a gripping narrative–a story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan–that transforms our understanding of early America.

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.

BONUS MATERIAL: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Russell Shorto's Amsterdam.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kaulsu - LibraryThing

A book better read than listened to. I found the middle portions of the history agonizingly slow with every tittle and jot of the massive research done by Shorto. The last third of the book was well ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - joeydag - LibraryThing

This book convinced me that America owes much to the Dutch for its freedom of religion and the bill of rights. Freedom of religion was not an issue for either New England nor Virginia. Only the Dutch ... Read full review

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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 a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, and the author of two previous books: Gospel Truth, about the search for the historical Jesus, and Saints and Madmen, about psychiatry and religion. The hub of his research for The Island at the Center of the World was the New Netherland Project at the New York State Library, where the archives of the Dutch colony centered on Manhattan are being translated. He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife and their two daughters.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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