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Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898…

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (1999)

by Edwin G. Burrows, Mike Wallace

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3458. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace (read July 9, 2001) This won the 1999 History Pulitzer Prize. If it had not I doubt I'd have read it, since I live over a thousand miles from New York. It is a sweeping and magisterial history, full of interesting and amazing things, many of which were new to me. It is a great book--1236 pages of text, 69 pages of a not user-friendly bibliography, and 69 pages of
index. This is a really good book, except for its failure to have decent footnotes. I am looking forward to volume II. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 23, 2007 |
At 1,424 pages, this is a big book, more a handy reference than sit-down-and-read-it page turner. But if you are looking for specific facts about New York City’s early history, this is the tome for you. “The authors,” noted The New York Times Book Review, “glide easily around town, peeking inside brothels for working men in Five Points, then pressing noses to the gilt-edged windows of the uptown rich.... Burrows and Wallace offer a large-canvas portrait of a city they clearly love.” ( )
  RebeccaReader | Jun 6, 2007 |
This is simply the best history of NYC until 1898, when the city we know today comprised of five boroughs was formed. All aspects of NYC history are covered in great detail. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has ever lived in NYC or just wants to learn more about it. ( )
  Jamie638 | Apr 4, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edwin G. Burrowsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wallace, Mikemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Introduction: The origin of many a great city lies swaddles in myth and legend.
"O this is Eden!" exulted the Dutch poet Jacob Steendam.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0195140494, Paperback)

Like the city it celebrates, Gotham is massive and endlessly fascinating. This narrative of well over 1,000 pages, written after more than two decades of collaborative research by history professors Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, copiously chronicles New York City from the primeval days of the Lenape Indians to the era when, with Teddy Roosevelt as police commissioner, the great American city became regarded as "Capital of the World." The sheer bulk of the book may be off- putting, but the reader can use a typically New York approach: Those who don't settle in for the entire history can easily "commute" in and out to read individual chapters, which stand alone nicely and cover the major themes of particular eras very well.

While Gotham is fact-laden (with a critical apparatus that includes a bibliography and two indices--one for names, another for subjects), the prose admirably achieves both clarity and style. "What is our take, our angle, our schtick?" ask the authors, setting a distinctly New York tone in their introduction. No matter what it's called, their method of weaving together countless stories works wonderfully. The startlingly detailed research and lively writing bring innumerable characters (from Peter Minuit to Boss Tweed) to life, and even those who think they know the history of New York City will no doubt find surprises on nearly every page. Gotham is a rarity, reigning as both authoritative history and page-turning story. --Robert McNamara

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:40 -0400)

In Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace have written an epic as vast and varied as the city it chronicles. Drawing on the work of hundreds of scholars who have reexamined New York's past, the authors weave together diverse histories - of sex and sewer systems, finance and architecture, immigration and politics, poetry and crime - into a single narrative tapestry that reads like a fast-paced novel. Readers will relive the tumultuous early years of New Amsterdam under the Dutch, the Indian wars and Peter Stuyvesant's autocratic regime, the English conquest, the rise of slave trading and slave revolts, the invasion and garrisoning of the city during the Revolution. They will watch New York blossom over the nineteenth century into the country's greatest port, leading manufacturing center, preeminent financial hub, corporate headquarters, and incubator of mass cultural innovations from vaudeville and baseball to Coney Island and the department store.But the real heroes and heroines of Gotham are New Yorkers themselves, and the authors provide mini-biographies of hundreds of individuals, ranging from the world famous to the virtually unknown. The interplay among New York's fiercely heterogeneous citizens was often abrasive, and Gotham recounts the way clashes between immigrants and old-timers, rich and poor, blacks and whites flamed into fierce street battles like the Civil War draft riots. But New Yorkers also forged connections and coalitionscreating multi-national picket lines, interracial reform movements, and multi-ethnic political tickets. Their fusions and collisions generated tremendous kinetic energy, cultural inventiveness, and a vision of unity-in-diversity that would become a distinctive contribution to world civilization.… (more)

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