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New York: The Novel [Kindle Edition]

Edward Rutherfurd
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (858 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $11.21
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Winner of the David J. Langum, Sr., Prize in American Historical Fiction
Named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and “Required Reading” by the New York Post

Edward Rutherfurd celebrates America’s greatest city in a rich, engrossing saga, weaving together tales of families rich and poor, native-born and immigrant—a cast of fictional and true characters whose fates rise and fall and rise again with the city’s fortunes. From this intimate perspective we see New York’s humble beginnings as a tiny Indian fishing village, the arrival of Dutch and British merchants, the Revolutionary War, the emergence of the city as a great trading and financial center, the convulsions of the Civil War, the excesses of the Gilded Age, the explosion of immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the trials of World War II, the near demise of New York in the 1970s and its roaring rebirth in the 1990s, and the attack on the World Trade Center. A stirring mix of battle, romance, family struggles, and personal triumphs, New York: The Novel gloriously captures the search for freedom and opportunity at the heart of our nation’s history.

Editorial Reviews Review

Edward Rutherfurd on New York

Strangely, I suspect it was Viking ancestors who drew me to New York.

For centuries my father's family lived on Britain's biggest tidal river, the Severn, on which there was a huge trade with the interior, and through the port of Bristol with America. In the nineteenth century they were in shipping from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and on the great rivers of Europe--the Rhine, the Danube, even the Russian River Dnieper. I myself was born beside a river--the Avon in Sarum. So when I first encountered New York's great harbor and the Hudson River as a teenager, and came to understand their historic canal and railroad links to the vast spaces of the Midwest, I felt both the thrill of a new adventure, and a deep sense of homecoming.

I first considered writing New York in 1991. I'd been in the city for a decade, was married to an American wife and sending my children to New York schools. I was even on the board of a coop building. But I wasn't sure how to organize such complex material, and for many years I put the project aside.

It was kind encouragement and old-fashioned editing from William Thomas at Doubleday that finally persuaded me to try again. And soon I was hooked.

New York's gift to the storyteller is magnificent: Indian and Dutch beginnings; larger-than-life historical characters like Lord Cornbury, the transvestite British Governor, the socialite Mrs. Astor, and the titanic J.P. Morgan; huge events from the Revolutionary War and the Civil War--when New York threatened to secede from the Union--to the Crash of '29 and the tragedy of 9/11. But it's the ordinary people I discover in my research--African slaves, Irish laborers, society ladies and sweatshop workers--whose lives move me most, and who provide so many of my plots and characters.

My own personal experiences also helped. I descend from both Philadelphia Quakers and Carolina colonists whose families were separated by the Revolutionary War. That helped give me insight into the agony of Patriots who, until the British government denied their claims, had always, like Ben Franklin himself, thought of themselves as free-born Englishmen. One of my closest friends since university is an Italian immigrant. Understanding the poverty and humiliations of her childhood helped me create the book's Caruso family who came through Ellis Island and lived in Little Italy.

I also love discovering how things work. It was as fascinating to study the history of Wall Street banking--and how financial crises always repeat themselves!--as it was to learn how the Empire State Building was constructed.

But above all, what I love about New York is that people have always come there in search of freedom, and usually found it. I was lucky to be born beside Sarum's Avon. But I'd like my New York children to scatter my ashes in the Hudson. --Edward Rutherfurd

(Photo © Jeanne Maseoro)


“Like James Michener and Leon Uris, Rutherfurd does a magnificent job of packaging a crackling good yarn within a digestible overview of complex historical circumstances and events.” —Booklist

"History has never been so fun to read....Rutherfurd's research is is history, but with a very readable story line."--USA Today

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2911 KB
  • Print Length: 882 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (November 3, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002PMVY3I
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,893 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
348 of 351 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful ride through the history of a great city November 10, 2009
I have read and loved all of Edward Rutherfurd's books (starting with Sarum, 20 years ago). When I heard that his latest book "New York" was being released a few weeks earlier in the UK than in the USA I ordered it from as I was so eager to read it.

"New York" is just as good as Rutherfurd's other works. The author takes us on a 350 year ride through New York's history, from the 1600s to the present day. The fictional characters are well-developed and interesting and we follow them through multiple generations alongside all of the major events in New York's history. New Amsterdam, the Dutch, the War of Independence, Tammany Hall, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, through to the inevitable and tragic conclusion at the World Trade Center. The chapter covering the Panic of 1907 is especially fascinating, given the obvious parallels with recent events: the near-collapse of the financial system, narrowly averted with millions of Government money, and the ability of J.P. Morgan himself to bring Wall Street's top money men together and convince them to do what was needed.

With Rutherfurd's books it feels more like you're living through the history than reading a history book. There are many enjoyable storylines involving the fictional families, with the historical events as a backdrop, and several of them incorporate real characters from history. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Churchill's family, Boss Tweed, and many others, are all here.

At school I thought history was a boring subject. But I found it very hard to put this book down, and very much missed my daily excursions into New York when I was finished.
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225 of 237 people found the following review helpful
I should confess straight up that I am a big fan of Edward Rutherfurd and consider him a worthy successor to my favourite author James A Michener. For me, a hefty novel with generations of interesting characters is my idea of heaven, and his masterpiece "Sarum" is a wonderful example of a great, great novel.

Now the latest offering "New York" - is a very well written and researched novel, and this in itself makes it a worthwhile read. However, I have to admit that I found it vaguely disappointing.

The city of New York has a fascinating history and has been at the forefront of much of the world's history, both good and bad. What I have found disappointing is that the storyline seems to only touch lightly on some of the more high profile events in its history, placing them in the context of the families that have been developed to populate the story.

Now this is a tried and true narrative technique, and it would be far more effective if the families were more interesting. But alas, somehow the story moves either too slowly, making the reader think surely something big will happen soon, or in such great leaps that we miss a lot of what makes the characters truly engaging, and limiting the sense of dynasty that makes these types of novels so engaging.

Having said that, it is still a very good read. The research undertaken is excellent and the characters are for the most part interesting and engaging (though I still believe that the characters that we don't get to know as well had the potential to be far more interesting!). Plus its about New York - one of the greatest cities on earth!

I can recommend it, it is entertaining and well written. It is NOT the great novel I hoped it would be, but perhaps I am just a victim of my own high expectations!
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96 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, but leaves a bit out November 10, 2009
New York: The Novel is an ambitious book. Covering nearly 350 years of New York, and by extension American history, this book is the story of about a half a dozen families living in the city at various points throughout its history: the Dutch van Dycks, English Masters, Irish O'Donnells, German Kellers, southern Italian Carusos, Jewish Adlers, and the descendants of the slave Quash, who are given the last name River. The novel opens in 1664, when New Amsterdam is bought from the Dutch by the English and becomes New York, and ends in the summer of 2009.

New York is the third of Rutherfurd's books I've read, after Sarum: The Novel of England and London: The Novel. His previous two books covered all of English history, from prehistory to the present; New York only covers about 350 years. There are good and bad things about focusing on such a (relatively) short period of history. On one hand, it's a lot easier to keep track of the generations through the years, and there's a lot more room for character development. On the other, I really wish that Rutherfurd had covered Manhattan history during the time it was owned by the Dutch.

The focus of the novel is on the Revolution and Civil War, particularly the Draft Riots of 1863, and the financial panic of the turn of the last century. The Great Fire of 1835 is ignored, as are the (often confusing) politics of Tammany Hall, the Astor Place riots, the amalgamation of the Boroughs, the General Slocum disaster in 1904, or the building of the subways.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting way to present history through time. Well researched ...
Interesting way to present history through time. Well researched and held interest.
Published 46 minutes ago by B. Gorder
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
I loved this book so much I've read it twice. Such a great read, I can't wait to read his other work!
Published 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Get to Know NYC
Enjoyable trip through the New York City from it's Dutch Roots to the World Center Disaster
Published 2 days ago by Jack Braunstein
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Have lived in NY state all my life, but far from NY city. I really enjoyed the history of the city and the characters were interesting. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Susan H. Eaton
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone who wants to understand how NYC came to be
Fabulous historical fiction --along the lines of James Michener and a must read for anyone looking for a comprehensive history of New York. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Eileen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting historical novel with facts and fiction beautifully told.
Published 4 days ago by Stacey E Keller
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book on the back ground of New York.
Published 5 days ago by Bill
4.0 out of 5 stars A very long but engaging book taking one through many ...
A very long but engaging book taking one through many generations in the settlement and development of new york city and indeed the evolving history of the US. Read more
Published 8 days ago by abqbeth
4.0 out of 5 stars American History as seen fron NYC
A real American history novel, spanning several centuries and multiple generations. Based in NYC with radii extending through-out the rapidly growing USA, at least in early... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Old Fixit Dog
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Very interesting book. Follows a few fictional families from the beginning of New York to the present day. Read more
Published 9 days ago by taffy
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More About the Author

Edward Rutherfurd was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and educated at Cambridge University and Stanford University in California. His first book, Sarum was based on the history of Salisbury. London, Russka,The Forest, Dublin and Ireland Awakening all draw on finely researched details of social history. Edward Rutherford has spent much of the last 30 years living in New York and Conneticut. He has an American wife and two American educated children and has served on a New York co-op board.

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