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The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony Th

By Russell Shorto

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony Th

You can view this book's Amazon detail page here.


Started reading:
17th February 2011
Finished reading:
25th March 2011


Rating: Unrated

I highly recommend this history of the early settlers in what was to become New York City. By reading this book you will become very sensitive as to how strong an English bias has developed around our early history. It is well known that history is written by the “winners” and this is never more true than regarding the history of New York City and contributions of Dutch settlers to America.

The contributions and history of the original Dutch settlers of Manhattan would have been lost had it not been for the singular translation efforts of Dr. Charles Gehring for the past 30 years! Dr. Gehring has translated more than 12,000 manuscript pages (18 volumes to date) of New Amsterdam historical documents. These documents laid untranslated in the archives of Albany, NY because of nearly undecipherable script as well as the archaic language until Dr. Gehring undertook the translation task.

Dr. Gehring’s efforts have disclosed a completely new perspective on the contributions of Dutch settlers to America. For example, religious freedom is commonly attributed to first English settlers when in fact the Puritans were completely intolerant of other religions. They persecuted all that were not of their faith. However, New Amsterdam settlers established an early pluralistic culture tolerant of nearly all faiths. This is but one example of the early establishment of what was to become of the most fundamental freedoms of America. These early Dutch settlers also established the concept of citizens petitioning grievances of the their government, and a singular law officer representing legal authority that developed into the attorney general of today.

Dutch contributions didn’t stop there. They were responsible for place names and language contributions such as Yonkers, NY; cole slaw, cookie, and boss.

In summary, this book is a must read for anyone interested in pre-colonial American history. You can’t consider yourself truly knowledgeable of American history without filling in the missing contributions of the Dutch to America.

Anyone interested in the ongoing research and study of pre-colonial New York City and visit the New Netherlands project at