Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America Paperback – April 12, 2005
|New from||Used from|
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
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 recordsârecently declared a national treasureâare now being translated. Drawing on this remarkable archive, Russell Shorto has created a gripping narrativeâa story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattanâthat transforms our understanding of early America.
The Dutch colony pre-dated the âoriginalâ 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.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Besides the writing style, I really enjoy the structure of the book. I've read quite a lot about the Thirty Years War, the enlightenment, the English civil war, the early settling of our nation - but never in a way that allows me to integrate the effects these events visited, collectively, on the settlement and character development of this country. Shorto ties it all together in one neat little package.
Admittedly, unless you have read about each of these events separately, it’s truly hard, for example, to appreciate just how devastating the Thirty Years War was for Europe. One interesting insight Shorto offers, however, that struck a chord in me, is that Western European civilization viewed war, in and of itself, as the natural state of being; that is, before the treaty of Westphalia and the loss of 40-45% of its population during the Thirty Years War. What a horror. A loss even greater than during WWII as a percentage of the population. After that ‘peace’ became the natural state. With war becoming the last act. Hence, Clausewitz: "War is the continuation of politics by other means".
Additionally, one can talk about the inspiration that enlightenment figures had on our founding fathers and our founding documents, but I, for one, would not have tied the Thirty Years War and the English civil war together, inextricably linked, to the birth of this nation through the Dutch or the English settlement, thereof, or for that matter the French settlement in the new world. And surprise, surprise. Who the heck would have known about the Swedes? Never had a clue. Shorto completely surprised me with their imperial foray into the new world.
Because I read history as a sequence of events, a continuum in time and space, but not in chronological order, e.g., I read about ancient Rome then jump to the history of Manhattan, I end up rendering history as linear and sequential. I rarely have the benefit of seeing it as a survey of a given time – like one experiences when in college, through discussion and careful planning on the part of a professor - I tend to lose sight of the fact that history is more like the collision of atoms in a fixed space, each crash and bang moving other objects, unpredictably, in new directions.
Well, sorry for going off the deep end.
I like this guy so much that I’m going to read his “Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict between Faith and Reason”.
The book's main thesis argues for Dutch colony's importance in shaping the tolerant culture of America. This is reinforced with historical context that succeeds in empathetically portraying life in the 1600's, but also explains why New York City is the way it is. Detailing familiar, people, places, and customs, this is the dramatic origin story of a city that is—in many ways—still the same.