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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:37 -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.
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