New York

New York is a sweeping, four-century tale set in the most exciting city on earth. Magnificently researched with the help of leading New York historians, this novel follows the fortunes of the Van Dyck and Master families, and the descendants of Quash the African slave, from the early days of Manhattan's Indian settlements and Dutch New Amsterdam, through the English takeover, the War of Independence, when New York was the British headquarters, and the nineteenth century, when New Yorkers created the canals and railroads that opened up the American West.

Along the way we meet the Kellers, German shopkeepers who produce a famous photographer, and the O'Donnell family, who emerge from the gangs of New York, rise through Tammany Hall and marry into the English aristocracy.  We discover how the city almost left the Union at the start of the Civil War, and experienced the terrible Draft Riots 1863 and the Great Blizzard of 1888. At the start of the twentieth century, the Carusos immigrate through Ellis Island, witness the great Crash of 1929, and help construct the Empire State Building.  The Adlers of Brooklyn experience anti-semitism between the two World Wars, and the Masters, as bankers and lawyers, seek their fortunes through the greed of the eighties and nineties, and come through a life-changing crisis in the tragedy of 9/11.

Larger-than-life historical characters fill the background: Stuyvesant, the Dutchman, Lord Cornbury the transvestite English Governor, George Washington, Ben Franklin who tried to keep America British, Lincoln who made one of his greatest speeches in the city, the titanic JP Morgan, Tammany Hall's Fernando Wood and Boss Tweed, legendary socialites like Mrs. Astor, and memorable modern city figures like La Guardia, Robert Moses, and Mayor Koch.

 


REVIEWS

Washington Post  - by Brigitte Weeks

“What makes this novel so entertaining is the riotous, multilayered portrait of a whole metropolis. Rutherfurd offers the reader a chance to watch a rural outcrop grow into one of the world's greatest cities in a mere 350 years. He delivers magnificently on the challenge; it is hard to imagine any other writer combining such astonishing depth of research with the imagination and ingenuity to hold it all together.”…..READ REVIEW.          

From Booklist -

"Rutherfurd, bestselling author of the novel London (1997), has penned a lush, lavish tribute to the Big Apple. Sweeping in scope, this fictional biography of New York City stretches back in time to the city’s origins as an Indian fishing village coveted by Dutch settlers to the aftermath of 9/11. As he marches through the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, two world wars, multiple waves of immigration, and the phoenix-like reemergence of a downtrodden New York as the vital center of the economic, social, and cultural universe at the end of the twentieth century, he interweaves the fascinating stories of a multitude of characters, all of whom were profoundly affected by the evolution of the largest and most complex American city. New York’s growing pains, its tragedies and triumphs, are reflected in the experiences of a range of ordinary and extraordinary citizens from varying backgrounds, with a wide spectrum of ambitions and expectations. Although it is hard to do justice to a city with such a throbbing pulse, Rutherford’s homage is compulsively readable." — Margaret Flanagan

From the Times of London -

"A history lesson , well researched...entertaining and ...will make you feel like a bit of a brain."

The Historical Novel Society - by Jane Kessler

"Edward Rutherfurd says that “New York's magnificent gift to the storyteller is a four-century history as exciting as that of any place on earth.” Well, New York: The Novel is Edward Rutherfurd’s gift to historical fiction readers. He is at the top of his game with this book, which tells the story of New York from 1664, when it was New Amsterdam and a Dutch settlement, to the terrible events of September 11. As in all his books, the story follows the lives of a few fictional families through time, with historical events interwoven, including the rise of New York as the financial capital of the U.S., the construction of major city landmarks, Tammany Hall politics, and the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. The families represent a cross-section of New York. The Dutch and English settlers are represented by the Van Dycks and Masters, united through marriage, who become wealthy early on and are part of the group of New Yorkers with “old money.” Their story is contrasted with that of a black slave, Quash, and his descendants. Then there are the O’Donnells and the Carusos, Irish and Italian working class families pursuing the American dream in their own way. While it’s clear that Rutherfurd has done a prodigious amount of research, he never gets boring or pedantic. He obviously knows the city well and has great affection for it. Don’t be put off by the book’s length – it is a quick read despite its 800+ pages. When I finished, I thought about how wonderful it is that there are writers like Edward Rutherfurd who make vast amounts of history so incredibly entertaining. Highly recommended. "

 


The Daily Mail -

"THIS year marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of New York City; someone was obviously going to write a novel about it and it may as well be Edward Rutherfurd, who’s got form in this respect (Dublin, London etc). This novel is almost as big as the Empire State Building…but it is worth the effort. Rutherfurd traces the development of the Big Apple from the first Indians in the marshes to the Twin Towers."

From Historical Novels -

"New York is a sweeping panorama of New York City history in the grand style of James A. Michener, but also something more interesting. The characters, with few exceptions, are drawn with genuine depth; the plot offers numerous surprising twists; and a theme of real weight builds to a moving conclusion. It opens in 1664 with a Dutch immigrant and the half-Indian daughter he loves but does not acknowledge for fear of offending his proud wife.Manhattan was founded on a misunderstanding. What the Indians considered a gift made "for the right to share their hunting grounds for a season or two," the Europeans considered the price for "buying the land in perpetuity." Dirk van Dyck and Tom Master are heirs to the city's original sin, but they and their descendants are sympathetic, many-faceted human beings: loving and prejudiced, generous and ambitious, part of a community in which the desirability of wealth is taken for granted.Almost a third of the novel covers the Revolutionary War, beginning with the early tensions between England and the Colonies. New York was under British rule during much of the War, its merchant families mostly loyal to the Crown. The fictional Master family is divided, so both loyalist and patriot viewpoints are explored with perceptive sympathy, though without moral blinders. Rutherfurd's heart clearly lies with the American effort to forge a more democratic society.The story of the wealthy Master fam'ily encompasses that of other New Yorkers descended from Dutch, African, German, Irish, Jewish, Italian, and Puerto Rican immigrants. Naturally, such notable events as the Civil War draft riots and the 1929 stock market crash are explored—but it's typical of Rutherfurd's approach to portray the 1977 electrical blackout while only alluding to the more easily stereotyped 1965 blackout. The disastrous 1911 Triangle factory fire in which 146 garment workers died, mostly young immigrant women, poignantly foreshadows September 11, 2001—and reminds readers of the city's persistence in turning tragedy to strength. (2009, 880 pages)"    Reviewed by Margaret Donsbach

From Hersam Acorn Press - by Justin Reynolds

"To the Lenape Indians, it was Manna Hata. To the Dutch, New Amsterdam. To the English — and now to the world — New York City.But how exactly did the relatively small island Peter Minuit purchased in 1626, for next to nothing, become one of the most — if not the most — powerful and influential cities mankind has ever seen?In his seventh novel, New York, published by Doubleday last month, best-selling author Edward Rutherfurd — known for weaving together epic tales of historical fiction, as seen through the eyes of a number of families — traces the history of the city from 1664 to the present day. Mr. Rutherfurd explores the city’s landscapes through the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, Ellis Island and World War II, among other things, ultimately climaxing with the attacks of September 11.In the book, Mr. Rutherfurd follows families of different ethnicities through the centuries. While the families themselves are fictional, the events happening around them and the people associated with those events are indeed real.“It has been necessary to invent very little in terms of historic events during the course of this narrative,” Mr. Rutherfurd writes in his novel’s preface. “Here and there, to maintain the narrative flow, there are a few simplifications of complex historical sequence or detail, but none, I believe, that misrepresent the general historic record.”When asked to describe his book, the author responded quite succinctly: “The book is about freedom.”For Mr. Rutherfurd, who’s previously written about England, Ireland and Russia, New York — which debuted 14th on the New York Times Bestseller’s List — is his first stab at America......." Written by Justin Reynolds  ..READ REVIEW.

Associated Press - by BOB SALSBERG

""New York: The Novel" (Doubleday, 864 pages, $30,) by Edward Rutherfurd: New York City wasn't born a grand metropolis and world financial center. In 1664, the year in which Rutherfurd begins his latest sweeping historical novel, New York is New Amsterdam, a modest Dutch trading post of about 1,500 residents on an island the Native Americans called Manna Hata.It starts with Dirk van Dyck, a fur trader, returning to the settlement on the great North River, which some preferred to call Hudson's River, in honor of the great explorer, Henry Hudson. Also in the canoe is Pale Feather, a half-Indian girl of about 10, conceived during one of van Dyck's frequent trips up the river to trade with the Algonquins.Van Dyck loves the girl but is regretting his decision to bring her on this visit to New Amsterdam. How could he possibly explain his illegitimate daughter to his wife, the attractive and self-assured Margaretha de Groot? He cannot, so he passes her off as a young Indian servant, nothing more.When Van Dyck returns the girl to her home, she surprises him with the gift of a Wampum belt. It will become a family heirloom, passed from generation to generation, a link between the city's future and its past.Van Dyck also has a gift for his daughter, a silver dollar purchased from an ambitious and scheming Englishman named Tom Master, banished by his Puritan family in Boston for being far too ungodly. No matter to the young man, who knows of England's designs on New Amsterdam — the king's intention to seize the settlement in the name of his brother, the Duke of York.
Master will go to New Amsterdam — soon to be New York — to make his fortune.

Readers of Rutherfurd's other works, notably "London," "Sarum" and "Russka," know the formula from there. In the tradition of James Michener, Rutherfurd unfurls more than three centuries of the city's history as seen through the eyes of the descendants of Van Dyck and Master — and the many other colorful characters he introduces along the way.From slave traders to commodity traders, there are those who come to New York in search of wealth. And from the Irish, Italians, Jews among others, there are the waves of immigrants who come in search of a better life.Fictional characters mingle with real ones and experience the city's greatest triumphs and greatest tragedies, the 2001 World Trade Center attacks among the latter."New York: The Novel" is the first foray into America for the British author, who as in previous works never hesitates to pause the narrative to explain to readers, in an easily understood way, the historical context of the time in which the action is unfolding. The result is a book as accessible to the casual reader as it is to the history buff. " READ REVIEW.

Bookreporter.com - by Roz Shea

Edward Rutherfurd, whose sweeping historical epics introduced us to 10,000 years of ancient SARUM and thousands of years of LONDON, now turns his historical pen to that young upstart of the west --- New York City.One of the greatest cities of the world, New York City saw its humble beginnings in a tiny Indian fishing village in the forests of Manhattan in the mid-1650s. The ancient cities of Europe and the Orient had flourished for thousands of years before the rustic trading center in New Amsterdam began to bustle with ships sailing across the Atlantic into its natural harbor.

In this history, the Master family, descended from the earliest traders, is followed through many generations and historical events in NEW YORK: THE NOVEL. They and their families are portrayed in this epic saga covering the great events that shaped our new nation. Rutherfurd explores the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the numerous stock market crashes, the racial divides that occurred as each new wave of ethnic immigrants swept ashore to start new lives in the promised land. We’ve read of these historical events in some of our country’s greatest literature, but Rutherfurd’s take on our history is seen through the eyes and experiences of New Yorkers, who were often not as closely involved as one might assume.Many might be surprised to learn that in the 1760s and 1770s, New York’s role in the American Revolution was neutral. New York at first abstained from signing the Declaration of Independence and stayed at arm’s length from the war until British ships were almost in New York Harbor. We learn that this is because the majority of influential New Yorkers were royalists who regarded the upstart revolutionaries of Boston and Philadelphia as rabble rousers who should at the very least be ignored, if not hanged for treason. The Revolutionary War was an annoyance to New Yorkers that interfered with trade and the booming commerce that would come to define the city.

The Civil War was also viewed from afar. The lucrative slave trade that sustained the trading routes of the Dutch West India Company --- and the many others that developed in the first 150 years --- was jeopardized by the threatening secession from the Union by the South. From its very beginnings, New York was about banking and making money. Unlike the industrial South and the growing inland cities, it did not manufacture goods; it marketed them. It did not grow crops; it traded them and invested the profits on Wall Street. If patriotism stirred the early New Yorker, it was about profit; it tended to leave the flag waving and fighting to the rest of the country. Street demonstrations in later years were more apt to be about suffrage, prohibition and social causes than about taking up arms in civil and international wars.

The early slave holders in the Master family gradually change to more progressive thinking, but are still torn --- even as slavery is abolished --- to holding to the old ways. The family encounters the forces of Tammany Hall, the Irish (and later, the Italian) mobs, the Jewish artists and craftsmen, and the Asian communities that gradually move in as other ethnic groups move out. New York evolves before our very eyes as some of the great landmarks rise, then fall to fire, dilapidation, or new development. Overhead railways change to subways, and narrow streets turn into freeways and parkways. The city crawls slowly northward, filling up as waves of ethnic groups move in behind other ethnic groups who want to move up or out. Anyone who has visited New York City in the last half century has watched this evolution as familiar buildings and landmarks vanish from the skyline, the most regrettable being the World Trade Center.

As the progeny of immigrants during different times in America’s history, it is fascinating for me to read in such vivid detail about the times in which our ancestors lived. Rutherfurd is a master at bringing to life the people and streets of the times, not just the events. By happenstance, many of the eras he describes coincide with my own family history. To enjoy his almost cinematic description of New Amsterdam in the mid-1600s when my too-many-greats-to-be-listed grandfather was a clerk from Delft, Netherlands for the Dutch West India Company and then opened a bar on Beaver Street, which could have been the same tavern mentioned in the book, sent chills up my spine. A later branch on my family tree when my great-grandmother arrived from Ireland in 1860 coincided with the upheaval prior to the Civil War.

 

But no matter if you are Dutch, English, descendents of slaves, Italian, Asian, Jewish, German, or Nordic, there were so many important events that affected the people on the streets that one can’t help but feel a bit of déjà vu if you are lucky enough to have had older relatives who reminisced about times past. And it’s all there: the book starts with the Indians and traders in New Amsterdam and ends in 2009. Three hundred and seventy years is a mere blink of an eye in historical terms, but what a history it is.
   
NEW YORK (Reuters) - by Nick Zieminski

 

A large, protected harbor and a river route to the north made the tip of Manhattan an attractive spot for a Dutch settlement some 400 years ago. The settlement -- soon British and eventually American -- grew into a global center of commerce and the arts, boasting some of the world's tallest buildings and richest people, and coming to symbolize the New World for the millions who came later.That history provides the strands for a lavishly detailed fiction, "New York: The Novel," which covers four centuries in 900 pages and took three years to research and write.Author Edward Rutherfurd follows several families from colonial times to the present, but anchors the tale on one clan, the Masters. Common themes, relationships and objects unite a long story into a coherent whole.Rutherfurd, a specialist in multi-generational family sagas -- a genre he says was invented by James Michener -- had previously covered two millennia of history in "London," "Dublin," and "Russka."He spoke with Reuters about New York, his favorite city haunts and writing very big books:

Q: A theme that unites the four centuries is money and trade. Is that something that you think defines New York City?
A: "All my books have an undertow. The thing is meant to be entertaining and full of information, but there has to be, to keep me going, some guts in there. What this book is about is freedom. That's what New York is about. Everybody's come to America, from the Pilgrims onwards, in search of freedom (whether) religious, economic, political or personal."
Q: When writing about a famous subject, to what extent do you have to play to expectations?
A: "You have to hit certain marks, but you try to come in diagonally, with a little bit of a surprise. Obvious ones are 9/11, the building of the Empire State Building. With the Great Crash of 1929, what I did is talk more about the Panic of 1907, which I find very dramatic when J.P. Morgan saved the markets.
"Wall Street pretends to be one thing, but it's really about placing bets. (After 1907) everybody talked about regulation, and it all fell apart again and gave us '29. And guess what, do recent events seem to be about a lack of regulation? There's this repetition in history that is fascinating and a little depressing."
Q: Throughout the book, you foreshadow September 11th, which then dominates the final section. What was your aim?
A: "The climax had to be the mass falling of 9/11. You could have the book end on tragedy, and to me that's not what New York is about.
"The tragedy of 9/11 is there, but it was immensely important to me that, on the one hand, the tragedy should be set in a grander historical context, and secondly there had to be an epilogue. One doesn't need to belabor the thing. The tragedy is a multiple of tiny personal tragedies, and yet the catharsis is, as in a war, in trying to step slightly back and see it in a larger context.
"I try to make it echo back to an intimate story at the start of the book. In the epilogue, I try to convey a sense of hope and celebration that's still in the city. "
Q: As you walk through Manhattan now, are there favorite haunts that remind you of its history?
A: "I love to walk in Central Park. I will frequently walk 40, 50 blocks, up Park and down Fifth. I love to go to the Village, but wish I played chess better. I love water. It was great fun going out in a little launch to Ellis Island, bumping around the harbor. I love seeing cities like St. Petersburg and New York from the water. I love big rivers. When they scatter my ashes, the Hudson would do fine. I'd like to go up the river a bit. Take me up to Poughkeepsie."
Q: To clear up a lingering question, is Edward Rutherfurd a nom-de-plume?
A: "It is a writing name. My Rutherfurd ancestors kept on marrying each other, so there was about 150 years of in-breeding. My genetic makeup has far more Rutherfurd than anything else. But my father's family name, an old English name, is extremely difficult for people. In the U.S., people assume my name was Winthrop. It is Wintle." READ REVIEW.

 

Amazon.Com -  By PAUL BRADSHAW 

 

"A wonderful ride through the history of a great city, November 10, 2009 .I have read and loved all of Edward Rutherfurd's books (starting with Sarum, 20 years ago). When I heard that his latest book "New York" was being released a few weeks earlier in the UK than in the USA I ordered it from Amazon.co.uk as I was so eager to read it. "New York" is just as good as Rutherfurd's other works. The author takes us on a 350 year ride through New York's history, from the 1600s to the present day. The fictional characters are well-developed and interesting and we follow them through multiple generations alongside all of the major events in New York's history. New Amsterdam, the Dutch, the War of Independence, Tammany Hall, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, through to the inevitable and tragic conclusion at the World Trade Center. The chapter covering the Panic of 1907 is especially fascinating, given the obvious parallels with recent events: the near-collapse of the financial system, narrowly averted with millions of Government money, and the ability of J.P. Morgan himself to bring Wall Street's top money men together and convince them to do what was needed.

With Rutherfurd's books it feels more like you're living through the history than reading a history book. There are many enjoyable storylines involving the fictional families, with the historical events as a backdrop, and several of them incorporate real characters from history. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Churchill's family, Boss Tweed, and many others, are all here. At school I thought history was a boring subject. But I found it very hard to put this book down, and very much missed my daily excursions into New York when I was finished. " READ REVIEW.

Amazon.Com - by Jeannette Newman 


"If you love NYC and you love reading, this book is a MUST. I am a librarian who reads like an addict. I have never written an Amazon review before, but feel compelled to write this one. Rutherfurd put pictures in my head of the broad spectrum of NYC history. I was fascinated to read fiction that dealt with times I had read about in history books. But I was positively thrilled with his correct depictions of the times that I have lived through as a native Italian American and Brooklynite. Rutherfurd gave my own history back to me in beautiful correct detail. I was sad to see this book end and at more than 800 pages that says a lot. Usually in books of this size a lot of editing would have helped, but I would not have cut a single thing out of this saga of the greatest city in the world." READ REVIEW.

 

A Tasty Bite of the Apple - By Gary Griffiths 

"If Edward Rutherfurd's "New York" is not as sweeping as his epic "London", or as historically fascinating as the classic "Sarum", it is a no less enjoyable read: a vibrant, swashbuckling snapshot of New York's City's rich and colorful origins. It has to be impossible to capture New York in a single volume, and despite a full 880 pages in hardcover, the breadth of New York's sometimes sordid, sometimes-noble, and usually triumphant past is reduced to only fleeting snapshots of the actual events. But if the content is light, especially compared to Rutherfurd's massive two-volume "Ireland" saga, he makes up for it with an extraordinarily empathetic cast that is developed more carefully, with greater impact, than in his previous works. This is partially the result of a focus on one fictional family - the Master's - with not much more than cameo appearances from a short list characters whose paths cross the Master clan from generation to generation, bridging all the way from Peter Stuyvesant's 17th century New Amsterdam to the summer of 2009.

 

Rutherfurd - and the Master's - careen through war and peace, crime and corruption, boom and bust - especially boom and bust - painting a vigorous portrait fitting for New York's larger-than-life image. And while the author is faithful to the formulaic approach that has served him so well, I found myself swept up as much with the Master's as with the historical content - a truly gripping and poignant series of tales of love and loss through generations which, if at times melodramatic, was never maudlin. Strong common threads run through this tightly knit chronicle, closing a 300-year loop with a compelling and satisfying payoff.

So kudos to Edward Rutherfurd for proving he can tell a story on this side of the Atlantic that is as exciting and historically illuminating as his great tomes of the British Isles. Not that there was much doubt, but "New York" is further proof that Rutherfurd is the reigning master of historical fiction, with every new release an important event. And Oh - a quick plug for Kindle's light weight, gutterless elegance - the perfect venue for "New York's" nearly 900-page mass." READ REVIEW.

Quebec’s Thesurburban.com -

Following up on the success of London: The Novel, author Edward Rutherfurd has written the epic New York which blends the 400 year history of the city with a fictional narrative. Rutherfurd b egins his story on the small native fishing village on the island of Manna hata and takes the reader from fur-trading times, through British settlement, the formation of the union and eventually right up to the modern day city of sky scrapers. Touching on triumph and tragedy in the city and examining every walk of life, this is truly a comprehensive look at the Big Apple.

 

USA TODAY - by Craig Wilson 

Edward Rutherfurd has tackled big subjects in his fiction before. London, Russia, Ireland, to name but three. Now he turns his keen academic eye toward the city that never sleeps. It appears Rutherfurd didn't sleep much either while putting together this massive "history" of one of the world's greatest cities. (Some have called him an heir to James Michener, who also wrote epics set in various locales around the world.) Rutherfurd's research is exhaustive, taking the reader from the city's beginnings as an Indian village at the tip of Manhattan all the way to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. READ REVIEW.

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Did You Know?
Notre Dame Cathedral:The lovely cathedral we know today is only there because in the Middle Ages an ambitious bishop named Maurice de Sully assured the Pope that the then old-fashioned cathedral on the site was too small to hold all the faithful. He then built a fashionable new cathedral - of exactly the same size !


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