Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4.5
( 51 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted March 26, 2011

    I'll take Manhattan

    Shorto's account of the Dutch beginnings in Manhattan is a rollercoaster ride through philosophers, adventurers, politicians and prostitutes, a multinational corporation and early multiculturalism, and an unknown candidate for Founding Father named Adriaen Van Der Donck. And what a ride!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2005

    Interesting Addition to English America

    Like most Americans, I grew up being taught that America was a British concoction. The mores, societal norms, ideas of freedom and individual rights, came straight from mother England, were planted in New England, and blossomed into what we have come to know as America. This didn't wash with what I understood the early New England colonists to stand for - intolerance, religious fanaticism, with little regard for individual rights. How did we get from there to here? Via Dutch Manhattan as it turns out. While hardly a cake walk, the Dutch colony was, relatively speaking, a much more tolerant society that the English colonies to it's north and south. Shorto tells the story of the Dutch colony in easy, well written style. I found the chapters concerning Dutch Manhattan's very earliest years pretty dry because they are almost entirely written from legal records. Once flesh and blood characters like Van der Donck and Stuveysant are introduced the story takes on a more vibrant tone.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2004

    Very entertaining historical account

    I knew very little about the Dutch colonies before I read this book. I also have a very short attention span when it comes to non-fiction. This book, however, kept me enthralled from beginning to end. The author narrates through the history of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in a very entertaining style. I highly recommend this book to anyone who takes pride in living in New York City - as you read this book you will be amazed by how much you take for granted about the way the city is today.

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