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Download The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America Audiobook, by Russell Shorto Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,535 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Russell Shorto Narrator: Russell Shorto Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2016 ISBN: 9781524733742
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In a landmark work of history, Russell Shorto presents astonishing information on the founding of our nation and reveals in riveting detail the crucial role of the Dutch in making America what it is today.

In the late 1960s, an archivist in the New York State Library made an astounding discovery: 12,000 pages of centuries-old correspondence, court cases, legal contracts, and reports from a forgotten society: the Dutch colony centered on Manhattan, which predated the thirteen “original” American colonies. For the past thirty years, scholar Charles Gehring has been translating this trove, which was recently declared a national treasure. Now, Russell Shorto has made use of this vital material to construct a sweeping narrative of Manhattan’s founding that gives a startling, fresh perspective on how America began.

In an account that blends a novelist’s grasp of storytelling with cutting-edge scholarship,The Island at the Center of the Worldstrips Manhattan of its asphalt, bringing us back to a wilderness island—a hunting ground for Indians, populated by wolves and bears—that became a prize in the global power struggle between the English and the Dutch. Indeed, Russell Shorto shows that America’s founding was not the work of English settlers alone but a result of the clashing of these two seventeenth century powers. In fact, it was Amsterdam—Europe’s most liberal city, with an unusual policy of tolerance and a polyglot society dedicated to free trade—that became the model for the city of New Amsterdam on Manhattan. While the Puritans of New England were founding a society based on intolerance, on Manhattan the Dutch created a free-trade, upwardly-mobile melting pot that would help shape not only New York, but America.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Astonishing…a book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past.”

    The New York Times

Listener Opinions

  • 0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 James | 2/20/2017

    " This audiobook surpassed my expectations. I didn't know what to expect but the narrator helps to make it interesting. The details provided are precise and colorful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juenbug | 2/18/2014

    " Excellent history of Manhattan (and parts of New Jersey) before the English arrived. It would certainly seem we have the Dutch to thank for the wonderful wild and wooly freewheeling multiculti place that is New York City. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nell Nicholas | 2/17/2014

    " I am really enjoying this account of the Dutch colonization of Manhattan. I have learned a tremendous amount of Dutch influence to today's New York and New England. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Astrida | 2/16/2014

    " Although a little heavy to get through, I learned a lot about Manhattan and its Dutch settlement. Then, I dragged my husband to the New York public library to look at maps from that era. I'm a nerd. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom vC | 2/8/2014

    " I listened to the audiobook version at the gym, so it didn't get all the attention it deserved. A pretty interesting account of New York when it was New Amsterdam. Good writing, some good historical perspectives about the 1600s. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 1/24/2014

    " surprisingly hard to get through. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Becky | 1/15/2014

    " I wanted to like this book because the topic sounded interesting, but I have read textbooks that were more exciting. I couldn't finish it. Maybe I just started reading it at a bad time for me personally and if I picked it up again I would be able to get into it, but honestly I just haven't been motivated to give it another shot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ma'lis Wendt | 1/5/2014

    " Fascinating account of the Dutch settlement in New Netherlands and why New York is the true foundation of the United States. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glory | 1/1/2014

    " If all you know about Manhattan is that Peter Stuyvesant swindled the natives by buying Manhattan for a few beads, you must read this. The Dutch settlement of Manhattan before the British took over is an amazingly rich story left out of American history books. I read this twice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kaye | 1/1/2014

    " Popular history, I suppose. A good read, interesting subject. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 12/27/2013

    " If you want to know about the history of the Dutch in New York this is a great book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 12/25/2013

    " Fascinating book, changes my understanding of how (and from where) the US began. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zephrene | 12/16/2013

    " Really amazing stories of Dutch Manhattan, and the foundation of the unique society that grew there. Awesome stuff that American Colonial History has forgotten, or never knew, until recently. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pam Johnson | 9/8/2013

    " This is another book that changed how I view American history. I had no idea that the Dutch had contributed so much to New York's culture. It has shaped how I now read other books about American history. It is clearly written and manages to tie threads together right up to the present day. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen Potter | 9/3/2013

    " A friend recommended this book when I mentioned that my Dutch ancestors came to New Amsterdam as early as 1630. Little did I know that those ancestors would make an appearance in this text. A good read and a great launching point for more research on family history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick Hautala | 8/12/2012

    " A history of Dutch New York (New Amsterdam) ... that is fascinating as well as beautifully written ... with information and humor ... A great book about a little-known aspect of history ... I cannot recommend this book highly enough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MSW | 7/28/2012

    " Good fun, with some nice new bits that you learn about 16/17 century history and the origins of the US, while being entertained in the process. Being Dutch I am not fully impartial though.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom | 9/1/2011

    " Recommended by George Moller, a friend in Rotterdam. About the influence the Dutch had on New York and the broader U.S. (government structure, work ethic, etc.) through their exploratory and colonization efforts here in the 17th century. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Patty | 8/6/2011

    " I wanted to like this one more. Probably could give it 2.5 stars. The topic was interesting and 1/2 the book is really great, showing the Dutch antecedents to modern day New York and the United States, but it bogs down under the weight of its research and academia. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom | 5/29/2011

    " I listened to the audiobook version at the gym, so it didn't get all the attention it deserved. A pretty interesting account of New York when it was New Amsterdam. Good writing, some good historical perspectives about the 1600s. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sue | 4/25/2011

    " wonderful history... and so important because the Dutch part of this history had not been revealed ... years of recent translation - the New Netherland Project... once discovered in Albany.. loved this book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rea | 4/7/2011

    " Spectacular account of the Dutch origins of Manhattan. Not to be missed by lovers of American history and/or New York City. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robin | 3/17/2011

    " I loved this book: The description of a native Manhattan island is rich and lush and the author relates the stories behind some of the boroughs and historic places in a familiar and comfortable way...it is as enjoyable and imagination-stirring as any historical fiction. Highly recommended! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 3/3/2011

    " The Dutch colony started many American things: the nation of immigrants, world-wide trading, a written Bill of Rights, New York City, cookies, bosses and Santa Claus. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick | 2/12/2011

    " A history of Dutch New York (New Amsterdam) ... that is fascinating as well as beautifully written ... with information and humor ... A great book about a little-known aspect of history ... I cannot recommend this book highly enough. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 11/1/2010

    " The history of Manhattan is really interesting, but getting through this book was slow going. If you're into colonial history or the history of NY, this is a book for you, otherwise, just get the NY documentary from netflix. "

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About the Author
Author Russell Shorto

Russell Shorto is the bestselling author of The Island at the Center of the WorldGospel Truth, and Saints and Madmen. He is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and the director of the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam, where he lives.