New York: An Illustrated History Paperback – Sep 2 2003
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There are a million stories in the wicked city, and New York: An Illustrated History contains hundreds of them. From its 17th-century beginnings as a small Dutch colony on the far edge of an empire to its late-20th-century status as one of the world's greatest cities, New York has been home to millions of fascinating people. Take, for example, Edward Hyde, royal governor of New York from 1702 to 1708. Hyde, cousin of Queen Anne, was heartily disliked by the colonists--in part because he was reputed to dress in women's clothing ("I represent a woman, and ought in all respects to resemble her as faithfully as I can," Hyde was reported to have said). Or Al Smith, son of immigrants, a day laborer, who worked his way up the political ladder and eventually became Governor of New York. Or Rosie Safran, a seamstress who survived the horrible fire that claimed 146 of her coworkers at the Triangle shirtwaist factory.
PBS darling Ric Burns (brother of Ken) teamed up with James Sanders and Lisa Ades to produce this spectacular volume and the accompanying 12-hour series. Some 500 illustrations enhance the narrative, while essays by and interviews with prominent New Yorkers-- Robert A. Caro, Carol Berkin, and David Levering Lewis among them--highlight their visions of the metropolis, past and present. New Yorkers or not, readers will enjoy stories of how the city grew and changed over time--such as in 1699, when the old Dutch city wall was torn down and a later-to-be-famous street laid out in its place; or in a 10-day period in 1930, when 14 new floors of the Empire State Building were erected. Along the way, the authors debunk a few myths: the Dutch didn't really pay only $24 for Manhattan, and no immigrant's name was known to have been changed by the Ellis Island inspectors--though the ships' manifests they were consulting may have been incorrect.
Burns and company are clearly enamored of New York, seeing it as "the ultimate city of dreaming and desire, a place of passage and transformation, of possibility and exchange, of mingled cultures and identities." They also see New York, with all its ups, downs, problems, and triumphs, as a microcosm of the modern world. Lavish, thorough, and pleasantly warm, New York: An Illustrated History reminds us that, yes, it's a wonderful town. --Sunny Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
A companion to an upcoming PBS series, this lavishly illustrated history is an engaging and intelligent work in its own right, presenting a coherent overview without ever glossing over thorny historical or political questions. By supplementing their well-researched text with photographs, paintings, newspaper headlines and interviews with historians and social critics, Burns (The Civil War, with Ken Burns) and Sanders have produced a volume that is as attractive as it is perceptive. Arranged chronologically, the book manages to capture some of the diverse elementsAsuch as the immigrant communities, labor unrest, traditional and avant-garde cultures, crime and architecture, among other factorsAthat continue to play important roles in the city's evolution. For example, the section on Greenwich Village, "The Republic of Washington Square," contains a succinct history of the area as a cultural engine, with rare photographs and illuminating quotes from Edmund Wilson and Floyd Dell. The section on the Harlem Renaissance provides a comprehensive analysis of the movement's development and importance, aptly illustrated and contextualized with an interview with David Levering Lewis. Burns and Sanders have successfully marshaled a huge amount of material into a format that is informative and highly entertaining. BOMC History Book Club selection. (Nov.) Cahners Business Information.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
To keep it interesting, the book also goes out of its way to provide little known factoids. For example, Manhattan was probably purchased for cash rather than trinkets and the value of the cash was closer to $600 than the famed $24 we all have heard so much about (someone used the wrong currency exchange rate in the past). There's a nice story about the origins of Typhoid Mary, who inadvertently poisoned those she cooked for. You will also learn that disease was once so rampant that 1 in 25 adults died each year. Without immigrants, the city would not have grown.
Those who are descended from those who immigrated through Ellis Island into one of the ethnic neighborhoods will find many photos to remind them of their heritage. There are also excellent photographic perspectives on the development of the African American community beginning from the Dutch slaveholding days.
The development of the major bridges is one of the visual pleasures of the book. The building of Central Park is a close second. The water piping pictures are quite remarkable, as well.
The book will delight those who do not know much about New York City, but would like to know more. Coming from California, New York City did not get much attention in the history books after the Revolutionary War except when financial markets crumbled. So much of this was new to me.Read more ›
And please pay no mind to the critics and reviewers who whine that there is no reference to the New York Yankees or "Why isn't this building discussed?" or "How can they have left out this museum and that park and those guys?" People, PLEASE! This is not a book about the history of West Orange, New Jersey. For Pete's sake, it's New York City! To have included everything would require volumes and volumes... and that still wouldn't cover everything. As I said, this book is one of the best of its kind. Buy it, read it, stare at the pictures, enjoy!
Rocco Dormarunno, author of The Five Points Concluded
The detailed explanation of events is awe-inspiring, fascinating, and makes one feel as if they were there to witness it all.
Being a New York State resident, this book makes me feel proud to be a New Yorker! Thanks to the authors, and all associated with this work for a wonderful piece of history.
Most recent customer reviews
New York is the world's greatest city. How many cities in the world merit the sort of treatment Ric Burns give New York in a book that is easily twice the size of a typical text... Read morePublished on March 25 2002 by The Gray Adder
All I want to say is WOW! This book is wonderful, I recieved it as a Christmas gift, and I just can't put it down. It is just as wonderful as the series. Read morePublished on Dec 29 2001
Great book for anyone interested in the history of New York City or in "The City" in general. Read morePublished on Dec 2 2001
This is an absolute must for everyone interrested in New York history. I love the many historical pictures and maps and the easy to read text (I'm German). Read morePublished on July 14 2001 by ucon
There are no pictures and captions of the universities and colleges (especially the unique City College), of the major museums(inside and outsides), major sports facilities and... Read morePublished on Nov. 21 1999 by Haase