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The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island Hardcover – July 2, 2013


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The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island + Slavery before Race: Europeans, Africans, and Indians at Long Island's Sylvester Manor Plantation, 1651-1884 (Early American Places)
Price for both: $45.95

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374266298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374266295
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Griswold’s deft unpacking of the Sylvester Manor mystery reveals the uncomfortable, complicated history they left behind....[A] precise, beautiful book...Haunting.”—The Boston Globe

“Extraordinary...This is an important book, for it is not just about a house. It is about the world and the destruction we have caused in it, all for the sake of making that place called home.”—Jamaica Kincaid

“History buffs will love The Manor, and it tells a story that needs to be told....[The house is] a remarkable relic of American history.”—The Washington Post

“Griswold skillfully weaves a historical tapestry of considerable complexity.”—Women’s Wear Daily

“A lively history of early American settlement...Like that Pulitzer Prize-winning work [The Hemingses of Monticello], The Manor is American history tightly compressed.”—The Atlantic Wire
 

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Mac Griswold is a cultural landscape historian and the author of Washingtons Gardens at Mount Vernon and The Golden Age of American Gardens. She has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Travel + Leisure. She lives in Sag Harbor, New York.


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Customer Reviews

Too, too much info.
ReRe
Well written, about an archeologist's discoveries at a colonial manor on Shelter Island, NY .
Linda Harrison
Very well written, very informative.
apie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kate Paup on July 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first became acquainted with the Sylvesters while researching my immigrant ancestor, John Booth, who was a business partner of Nathaniel Sylvester. I read anything that can give me a taste of what eastern Long Island was like in the seventeen century, and this book was everything I hoped it would be. Nathaniel did not leave a diary, but the author, Mac Griswold, using scientific observation, historical record, and family records, made the life and times of the Sylvesters come alive. I felt like this book was written with me in mind, giving me a portal to discover what life was like not only on Shelter Island, but also early colonial America. Of course, I was most interested in events that touch my ancestor, such as the purchase of the island from the native indians, a shipwreck carrying them toward their new home, their support and protection of Quakers, and my ancestor's signature on the inventory of Nathaniel's estate after his death.

I also gained a lot of insight into early Amsterdam, where Nathaniel grew up, and was moved by her description of early slave trading. She also was vivid in her descriptions of what daily life was like for a family living on their own plantation island with only slaves, Indians and occasional visitors, such as Mary Dyer and George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. I expect to read this book again and again.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By FredBrem on August 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Manor is a powerful, evocative, poetic and beautifully crafted book. The contradictions and "subsurface" tragedy in the history of this northern island slave plantation go so deep -- and the human efforts (from today's vantage point) are so intentional, blind and immense -- that it's necessary to read The Manor slowly, valuing Griswold's impeccable work and doing one's best to absorb all the years and levels.

Griswold's own experiences while writing The Manor unfold throughout the book, augmenting the primary narrative and at times providing a temporary (welcome) haven for the reader. The beauty of this historic landscape itself, through the years and seasons, also offers solace.

Beyond the narrative itself, Griswold has captured the larger dichotomies brilliantly. So much of what is so seriously flawed in today's economic, political, and ecological human systems -- as well as the seeds of so much that is beautiful and good in American culture -- grew out of Early Modern European capitalism and the (Dutch) triangular trade. It's that portion of The Manor's legacy that all of us have inherited.

I'm sharing this book with friends (and maybe a friend's book group?) as essential reading.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy (Dottie) on July 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book from Amazon and received it on July 2nd and did not put it down, unless I had to for other reasons. Spellbinding!

But I love history and had never studied New York before. A wonderful introduction. The author is an amazing researcher and writer. I even read "Sylvester Manor Time Line", her "Notes", studied "Bibliography" and "Acknowledgents" at the back of the book; my hesitation for the book to end.

The last three pages of the history; 317, 318 and 319; brought chills and tears to learn that the "Manor" is still being well taken care of. Nathaniel and Grizzell, wherever they are watching from, are sure to be very, very proud of their extended family.

This is a story written in narrative; conversations are not necessary. Good luck to Mac.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BC on October 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nathaniel Sylvester is my ancestor. It was fascinating (and disturbing, re: the slavery issue) to have so much information on the family and the manor at Shelter Island. Ms. Griswold did an excellent job on her research and it is a book I plan to buy for my adult children.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Shy Funnybones on November 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mac Griswold has written a fascinating book about Sylvester Manor, a slave plantation on Long Island's Shelter Island. The house was founded in the 17th century and inhabited until very recently by descendants of these founders, people that Griswold presents as complicated, three-dimensional individuals whose lives are shadowed by the slavery that built and maintained their beautiful home.

I especially like the way she takes the reader along as she explores the manor, its inhabitants, its gardens and its cemeteries, and as she travels to such places as Amsterdam and Africa to walk in the footsteps of those who came to the New World, some via the Middle Passage, a journey whose horror she describes so vividly. Allowing the reader to share her shock, discoveries and surprises as she makes them creates drama and excitement. Indeed, I couldn't put the book down.

I also learned a lot. For example, I hadn't read about a provisioning plantation before, hadn't seen so clearly the ship-born connections that were part of the Atlantic World, hadn't known that seagoing ships did not sail directly from Amsterdam but made their preparations at Texel, a nearby island, and hadn't heard of the wind-driven saw mills which revolutionized ship building by producing planks much more quickly than previously possible.

At the core of this story about early colonialism and its aftermath are the contradictions: Rhode Island representing soul liberty but having the biggest slave trade in North America, Quakers exhibiting the impulse to exploit even as they dream of leaving oppression behind and starting over in the New World. I always find such contrasts puzzling, never quite understandable, yet undeniable. It is tempting to fasten upon just one side of the equation rather than acknowledge the difficult whole, as Griswold is willing to do. Anyone interested in history would enjoy and be moved by this wonderful book.
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