The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America
In an account that blends a novelist's grasp of storytelling with cutting-edge scholarship, The Island at the Center of the World strips Manhattan of ... Show synopsis In an account that blends a novelist's grasp of storytelling with cutting-edge scholarship, The Island at the Center of the World strips Manhattan of its asphalt and brings us back to a wilderness island. Manhattan was populated by wolves and bears which became a prize in the global power struggle between the English and the Dutch. Russell Shorto shows that America's founding was not the work of English settlers alone, but rather a result of two seventeenth century powers--Amsterdam and England. It was Amsterdam's most liberal city with an unusual policy of tolerance and a polyglot society dedicated to free trade. Manhattan became the model for the city of New Amsterdam. While the Puritans of New England were founding a society based on intolerance, the Dutch created a free-trade, upwardly-mobile melting pot that would help shape not only New York but America. The men and women who played a part in Manhattan's founding range from the philosopher Rene Descartes to James the Duke of York. At the heart of the story is a bitter power struggle between two men: Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic director fo the Dutch colony, and a forgotten American hero named Adriaen van der Donck, a maverick, liberal-minded lawyer whose brilliant political gamesmanship, commitment to individual freedom, and exuberant love of his new country would have a lasting impact on the history of this nation.