Vintage Books


"This is one of those rare books in the picked-over field of colonial history, a whole new picture, a thrown-open window into the intra-European struggles for dominance and the disputes over political philosophy that did indeed shape this country. With his full-blooded resurrection of an unfamiliar American patriot, Russell Shorto has made a real contribution and given class clowns an excellent new name to pronounce 100 years from now: Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Van der Donck."
--New York Observer

"Astonishing. . . . A book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past."
--The New York Times

"A tour de force. . . . The dramatic story of New York's origins is splendidly told. . . . A masterpiece of storytelling and first-rate intellectual history."
--The Wall Street Journal

"As readable as a finely written novel. . . . Social history in the Barbara Tuchman tradition."
--San Jose Mercury News

"Literary alchemy. . . . Shorto's exhaustively researched and highly readable book is a stirring re-examination. . . . Brilliant and magisterial narrative history."
--Chicago Tribune

"Masterly. . . . A new foundation myth. . . . Shorto writes at all times with passion, verve, nuance and considerable humor."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Rattlingly well told--a terrific popular history about a past that beautifully illuminates the present."
--The Sunday Times [London]

"A dramatic, kaleidoscopic and, on the whole, quite wonderful book. . . . This is one of those rare books in the picked-over field of colonial history, a whole new picture, a thrown-open window. . . . [A] full-blooded resurrection of an unfamiliar American patriot."
--The New York Observer

"Deserves to be a bestseller. . . . Narratively irresistible, intellectually provocative, historically invaluable."
--The Guardian

"A spry, informative history. . . . Shorto supplies lucid, comprehensive contexts in which to see the colony's promise and turmoil. . . . [D]elivers the goods with clarity, color and zest."
--The Seattle Times

"As Russell Shorto demonstrates in this mesmerizing volume, the story we don't know is even more fascinating than the one we do. . . . Historians must now seriously rethink what they previously understand about New York's origins."
--The New York Post

"Russell Shorto fires a powerful salvo on the war of words over America's origins. . . . He mounts a convincing case [that], in Shorto's words, 'Manhattan is where America began.' Readers . . . find themselves absorbed in what can only be described as a plot, revolving around two strong men with conflicting visions of the future of Dutch North America."
--America: The National Catholic Weekly

"Fascinating. . . . A richly nuanced portrait set against events on the world stage."
--Time Out New York

"Shorto brings this . . . deeply influential chapter in the city's history to vivid, breathtaking life [with] a talent for enlivening meticulous research and painting on a broad canvas. . . . In elegant, erudite prose, he manages to capture the lives of disparate historical characters, from kings to prostitutes."
--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Remarkable. . . . [C]ompulsively interesting. . . . Shorto argues that during the brief decades of its Dutch colonial existence Manhattan had already found, once and for all, its tumultuously eclectic soul."
--New Statesman

"Shorto delineates the characters in this nonfiction drama convincingly and compellingly."
--Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"[An] absorbing, sensual, sometimes bawdy narrative featuring whores, pirates, explorers and scholars. With clarity and panache, Shorto briskly conveys the complex history of the age of exploration."
--Times Literary Supplement

"Shorto's book makes a convincing case that the Dutch did not merely influence the relatively open, tolerant and multicultural society that became the United States; they made the first and most significant contribution."
--American History

"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."
--Edward G. Burrows, coauthor of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History

"A landmark work. . . . Shorto paints the emotions and attitudes of his characters with a sure hand, and bestows on each a believable, living presence."
--The Times (London)

"A triumph of scholarship and a rollicking narrative . . . 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
Russell Shorto
April 2005
$14.95 (Can. $21.00)