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New York: An Illustrated History [Paperback]

Ric Burns , James Sanders , Lisa Ades
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 53.00
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Book Description

Sept. 2 2003
The companion volume to the PBS television series, with more than 500 full-color and black-and-white illustrations

This lavish and handsomely produced book captures all the beauty, complexity, and power of New York -- the city that seems the very embodiment of ambition, aspiration, romance, desire; the city that has epitomized the entire parade of modern life, with all its possibilities and problems. Chronicling the story of New York from its establishment as a Dutch trading post in 1624 to its global preeminence today, the book is at once the biography of a great city and a vivid exploration of the myriad forces -- commercial, cultural, demographic -- that converged in New York to usher in the contemporary world.

Weaving the strands of the city's sweeping history into a single compelling narrative, New York carries us through nearly four centuries of turbulent growth and change -- from the first settlement on the tip of "Manna-hata" Island to the destruction wrought by the Revolutionary War; to the city's stunning emergence in the nineteenth century as the nation's premier industrial metropolis; to the waves of early-twentieth-century immigration that forever transformed the city and the nation; to New York's transfiguration as the world's first modern city -- pioneering skyscrapers, apartment houses, subways, and highways -- and its role as the birthplace of so much of American popular culture. Along the way, we witness the building of the city's celebrated landmarks and neighborhoods, from the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building and the United Nations; from Wall Street and Times Square to the Lower East Side, Harlem, and SoHo.

The book brims with vibrant illustrations, including hundreds of rare photographs, paintings, lithographs, prints, and period maps. The narrative incorporates the voices and stories of men and women -- statesmen, entrepreneurs, artists, and visionaries -- who have lived in and built the city: an extraordinary cast of characters that includes Peter Stuyvesant, Alexander Hamilton, John Jacob Astor, Walt Whitman, Boss Tweed, Jacob Riis, Emma Lazarus, J. P. Morgan, Al Smith, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Gershwin, Fiorello La Guardia, Robert Moses, and Jane Jacobs.

Accompanying the book's narrative are interviews with Robert A. Caro, David Levering Lewis, and Robert A. M. Stern, and essays by a group of distinguished New York historians and critics -- Kenneth T. Jackson, Mike Wallace, Marshall Berman, Phillip Lopate, Carol Berkin, and Daniel Czitrom -- who add their insights about the city to this splendid history.

From the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

New York: An Illustrated History + New York: A Documentary Film by Ric Burns  (American Experience) + The Historical Atlas of New York City, Second Edition: A Visual Celebration of 400 Years of New York City's History
Price For All Three: CDN$ 148.56

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Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best of Its Kind Oct. 22 2003
This is a huge book with plenty of text and hundreds of relevant, beautiful illustrations and photos. Just about the entire transcript of the multi-award winning PBS documentary, Ric Burns' NEW YORK is here, along with previously unpublished essays by the documentary's featured commentators. This alone makes the book worth the price and worth the time reading. And, if you don't feel like reading, just browse through the incredible photographs and graphics. That is why this is one of the best illustrated books on New York history out there.
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
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Contrast of Rich and Poor Vividly Displayed Sept. 1 2000
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Every history book has a slant. This one has several, but the most dramatic one is the portrayal of the vast gulf between rich and poor that has long been part of New York City's uniqueness. Each side gets a lot of attention. A secondary slant is the theme of the city's change from a rural area into a metropolis with manufacturing to the modern city mostly of financial markets, stores, entertainment, and residents.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a New York City Junkie March 25 2004
By Adam
I read this textbook-like coffee table book from corner to corner and since I lap up New York history I loved it. Burns could have included so much more on Moses but didn't though. Still, and outstanding compilation of information. Plus, a beautiful book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have! Jan. 5 2004
I remember glancing at this book for the first time last spring, at the bookstore in Jersey Gardens...I must have been in there for over an hour, and even made myself comfortable sitting on the floor. This book is just great; and although it's next to impossible to squeeze every detail about NYC into one book (Try 'Gotham' if that's what you're going for), this book is definately one of the finest out there. I knew within the first 5 minutes that I wanted this book. The pictures and drawings featured are simply amazing, and would fascinate any NYC history buff for sure. Point in case- Get this book!
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By A Customer
This book is so complete in its description of events from New York City's very beginnings, through its infancy, its growing pains, and its present status as possibly the greatest city in the world.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic series and a lovely book... Nov. 26 1999
By deir
Ric Burns has made it compelling for future generations to look deeply at some of the most important events in American history and see them fully with the sense of being of that time and yet with the perspective one gains with hindsight. His boundless curiosity is only matched by his gift for packaging the product. To tackle the subject of New York City and render a complete picture is a testament to his drive. Even a jaded native-New Yorker will look at the city in a new way after reading this book!
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Any fan of New York City history and culture will quickly come to consider this a 'must': it provides both a companion volume to the PBS series and a stand-alone title which will grace coffee tables for generations to come. This isn't to say this is a coffee table volume of slim photos - it's packed with history as lavish as it is in photography and it embraces near four centuries of change in the city from past to present in a sweeping panoramic story. Highly recommended.
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