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

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9781400078677: The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

A gripping narrative of New Netherland–a story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan–that transforms our understanding of early America.

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. Russell Shorto draws on this remarkable archive in The Island at the Center of the World, which has been hailed by The New York Times as “a book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past.”

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.

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From the Back Cover:

Praise for The Island at the Center of the World
“Russell Shorto’s dramatic adventure tale about the settling of Manhattan will transform the way we look at American history. The Dutch colony, founded just three years after the Puritans landed in Massachusetts, quickly became the gateway for Germans, Italians, Jews, Scandinavians, Africans, and others who created the pluralistic mix that would define a new nation. Shorto’s book recounts the fascinating struggle between Peter Stuyvesant and the lesser-known but more influential Adriaen van der Donck, whose appreciation for individual tolerance laid the foundation for our Bill of Rights and helped to create our national character. It’s also the story of the remarkable age of exploration led by Henry Hudson and others who spread the culture of the European Renaissance to a distant wilderness. Based on a wealth of documents that archivist began translating forty years ago, Shorto has produced both a triumph of scholarship and a rollicking narrative. The result is an exciting drama about the roots of America’s freedoms.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

The Island at the Center of the World ranks among the best books ever written about New Amsterdam, the Dutch settlement on Manhattan that would become New York City. Shorto’s prose is deliciously rich and witty, and the story he tells—drawing heavily on sources that have only recently come to light—brings one surprise after another. His rediscovery of Adriaen van der Donck, Peter Stuyvesant’s nemesis, is fascinating.” —Edwin G. Burrows, coauthor of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History

From the Inside Flap:

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.

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A gripping narrative of New Netherland-a story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan-that transforms our understanding of early America. 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. Russell Shorto draws on this remarkable archive in The Island at the Center of the World, which has been hailed by The New York Times as a book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past. 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. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9781400078677

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A gripping narrative of New Netherland-a story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan-that transforms our understanding of early America. 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. Russell Shorto draws on this remarkable archive in The Island at the Center of the World, which has been hailed by The New York Times as a book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past. 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. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9781400078677

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