The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto
The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Russell Shorto

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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.
 
Published April 12, 2005 by Vintage. 416 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Island at the Center of the World

Publishers Weekly

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Mining a trove of recently translated 17th-century records of New Netherland, Shorto reconstructs, in fascinating detail, the little-told story behind the Dutch settlement and its capital, Manhatta

Oct 04 2004 | Read Full Review of The Island at the Center of t...

Publishers Weekly

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Drawing on 17th-century Dutch records of New Netherland and its capital, Manhattan, translated by scholar Charles Gehring only in recent decades, Shorto (Gospel Truth</EMPHA

Feb 09 2004 | Read Full Review of The Island at the Center of t...

The New York Times

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The journalist Russell Shorto explores the history of the sleepy (though not for long) Dutch town known as New Amsterdam.

Apr 04 2004 | Read Full Review of The Island at the Center of t...

Publishers Weekly

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Drawing on 17th-century Dutch records of New Netherland and its capital, Manhattan, translated by scholar Charles Gehring only in recent decades, Shorto (Gospel Truth ) brings to exuberant life the human drama behind the skimpy legend starting with the colony's founding in 1623.

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BC Books

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We all grew up in our American history classes with the image of peg-legged old Peter Stuyvesant rul...

Aug 16 2007 | Read Full Review of The Island at the Center of t...

BC Books

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We all grew up in our American history classes with the image of peg-legged old Peter Stuyvesant ruling chaotically over the short-lived Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.

Aug 16 2007 | Read Full Review of The Island at the Center of t...

BookIdeas.com

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America .

May 14 2015 | Read Full Review of The Island at the Center of t...

HistoryNet

This intrigued his employers, the Dutch West India Company, who sent a boatload of settlers to Manhattan, paid off the Indians and set up a colony that grew for 50 years until the English sailed in and took over without a fight.

Jun 12 2006 | Read Full Review of The Island at the Center of t...

The Satirist

Historians have often treated the establishment of New Amsterdam by the Dutch as a footnote to the history of the United States.

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