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Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City Paperback – May 28, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is also chock-full of historic and computer-rendered maps, wildlife and ecosystem photos and other illustrations. Sanderson's text is informative, entertaining and not preachy.
Through this excellent book, the reader not only learns about the natural history of NYC but sees it as a microcosm of the human impacts on landscapes across the continent and world.
The writing style and tone remind me of the excellent "World Without Us" but with the added bonus of being heavily illustrated.
I only wish that there were more of the large-format digital before-and-after Manhatta Project photos... a coffee table book would be justified!
Highest recommendation (and a must-own if you live in or love NYC).
This much I already knew before purchasing the book, but frankly, I was disappointed when I actually got it. In part this is because the book seems to struggle to decide what it wants to be. A major portion does indeed deal with Manhattan Island in 1609. There are a number of amazing images put together with the latest computer-generated image technology after painstaking field research and with the 18th century British headquarters map. They depict a Manhattan so beautiful it brings tears to the eyes, particularly when you consider how totally the natural environment of the island has been destroyed. Still, I was left only half-satisfied, and would love to have seen something other than simulated aerial views, i.e. some neighborhood by neighborhood ground-level close-ups with descriptions (maybe they exist somewhere, but the link to the [...] website printed on the book's jacket didn't work; perhaps it's not up yet). But apart from reprints of historical paintings and drawings, there is less detail than I would have expected. Nor is there much discussion (apart from references to the laying-out of the grid street-plan and the grading involved) of the Manhattan archeological record, or of the massive and traumatic process of changing the primitive woodland paradise of 1609 into an unrecognizable agricultural and then urban environment.Read more ›
That said, I think the project is a lot more interesting than the book. The book is okay, just rather plodding. It seemed like the author really didn't have that much to say and padded the book out with some very generic, rather flowery prose. Here's an example:
"Yet it is exactly these processes of destruction that keep nature refreshed and alive. Take the death of one of those huge old-growth American chestnuts on Mannahatta, perhaps already 350 years old that night that a big wind knocks it down. The next morning, the gap in the forest canopy floods the ground with sunlight, and all those younger trees that have struggled in the shade through the decades are let loose to grow as fast as they can toward the light. In the course of the twenty years it will take the trees to fill the place of that mighty chestnut, the sun-drenched meadow will accommodate ephemeral flowers and insects that wait for just this chance to reproduce. The meadow is drenched with birdsong from nests that dot its fringes; white-tailed deer graze the lush secondary growth, where wolves come to hunt. Even the dead body of the chestnut, laid to rest in the undergrowth, becomes a habitat for mushrooms and insects, the perfect burrowing place for chipmunks and ground squirrels - until a weasel comes to ferret them out. At night a great horned owl silently falls on the timid deer mouse, and the frost descends beneath the starry sky to eclipse delicate flower buds where once the mighty chestnut grew.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an unusual and magical book, which I recommend highly for many of the reasons others cite. But many of the interesting details are literally unreadable in the Kindle... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Reluctant Critic
I would have given this book five stars for the strong research, beautiful pictures and maps, and for the efforts made on reconstructing how NYC would have looked. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Wisahkanghend
My wife got her Masters in Landscape Architecture and really loved the book. We use it to teach our son about ManhattanPublished 7 months ago by Steward
Terrific info for a native Manhattanite like me or anyone else who loves NY.Published 9 months ago by Petenick
VERY quick delivery! Great price. Looking forward to reading this book. Will definitely purchase from you again. Thanks very much A+++++Published 12 months ago by Lori F
Funny how reading William Cary Duncan's iffy biography THE AMAZING MADAME JUMEL (too much in the way of imaginary conversations) led to my reading W. H. Read morePublished 12 months ago by James S. Eisenberg
Mannahatta is a tremendous history of NYC. Anyone who loves this spectacular area needs to read this to learn how is started and great into one of the world's greatest cities.Published 14 months ago by John J. Bailey