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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
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.