New York: The Novel by Edward RutherfurdNew York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd

New York: The Novel

byEdward Rutherfurd

Paperback | September 21, 2010

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A brilliant mix of battle, romance, family struggles, and personal triumphs, New York gloriously captures the search for freedom and prosperity at the heart of America's history.

A blockbuster masterpiece that combines breath-taking scope with narrative immediacy, this grand historical epic traces the history of New York through the lenses of several families: The Van Dycks, a wealthy Dutch trading family; the Masters, scions of an English merchant clan torn apart during the Revolution; the Hudsons, slaves who fight for their freedom over several generations; the Murphys, who escape the Famine in Ireland and land in the chaotic slum of Five Points; the Rewards, robber barons of the Gilded Age; the Florinos, an immigrant Italian clan who work building the great skyscrapers in the 1920s; and the Rabinowitzs, who flee anti-semitism in Europe and build a new life in Brooklyn.

Over time, the lives of these families become intertwined through the most momentous events in the fabric of America: The founding of the colonies; the Revolution; the growth of New York as a major port and trading centre; the Civil War; the Gilded Age; the explosion of immigration and the corruption of Tammany Hall; the rise of New York as a great world city in the early 20th-century; the trials of World War II, the tumult of the 1960s; the near-demise of the city in the 1970s; its roaring rebirth in the 1990s; culminating in the World Trade Center attacks at the beginning of the new century.

New York is the book that Rutherfurd's fans have been waiting for.

From the Hardcover edition.
Edward Rutherfurd has lived in London, New York, New Hampshire, and Ireland. He currently divides his time between New England and Europe. Rutherfurd has two children.From the Hardcover edition.
Title:New York: The NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:880 pages, 8.2 × 5.49 × 1.53 inPublished:September 21, 2010Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385664273

ISBN - 13:9780385664271


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Historical yet timely Even though this saga is about the history of New York City, this novel is still relevant today. It is interesting to be reminded about the settling of New York, and especially Manhattan, and the war of Independence and the Civil War. Given the sorry state of things in the US today and the devisiveness within the population, it is poignant to see that not much has changed in many ways in the past 200 years.
Date published: 2017-10-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good read If you like expansive historical sagas, then this is the book for you.
Date published: 2017-08-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read great read if you wish to learn about the history of New York. beautifully written and easy to read. On the other hand, it focuses on some parts of history more than others and all the male characters in the story are the exact same which I didn't like.
Date published: 2017-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Novel Probably my favourite of Rutherford's books and one of my favourite's to read anyway. Amazing stories told through families, and an interesting way to see a familiar state shaped.
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from history alive Chronological tale of various families and generations from New York from early settlement to 2001. The book brings together references to things you know and adds so much more information. The author has a way of sharing the history while making the story suspenseful.
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great for travel read I like reading about the city I am visiting when I am there so splurged on Kobo copy for a trip to NYC to n 2015. Fit in perfectly with the various walk ng tours we saw, made it easier to remember these historical flow. The endings of Rutherford's novels (the contemporary bits) are not as engaging so interest waned. Fascinating though how Manhattan has followed the boom-bust finance al cycle since the time of beaver pelts
Date published: 2015-10-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from My thought I really enjoyed the book from the beginning to the end. The characters in each era made you feel that you could be part of the family
Date published: 2014-09-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My thought I really enjoyed the book from the beginning to the end. The characters in each era made you feel that you could be part of the family
Date published: 2014-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best historical novel Best historical novel I've ever read! Great amount of historical details in several family based settings that goes from the early ancestors of New York all the way to when the book was published. You are encircled in the time that historical events took place, and feel the characters as real people in your life. Love the book!
Date published: 2013-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from New York Terrific read.. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
Date published: 2013-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Super Historical Novel! Great narrative story of a few New York families whose lives are interconnected from the founding of the city by the Dutch to the tragedy of 9/11. Few cities possess NYC's allure and magic. Yes, the book is long at over 1,000 plus pages but defintely worth your time.
Date published: 2012-03-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Rutherford Brings History Alive For those who havevisited New York City, every chapter of this book will provide you with an interesting link to the city's history of which you were not aware. An easy read that makes history come to life in a way that is quite pleasurable.
Date published: 2011-01-06

Read from the Book

1664So this was freedom. The canoe went with the river's tide, water bumping against the bow. Dirk van Dyck looked at the little girl and wondered: Was this journey a terrible mistake? Big river, calling him to the north. Big sky, calling him to the west. Land of many rivers, land of many mountains, land of many forests. How far did it continue? Nobody knew. Not for certain. High above the eagles, only the sun on its huge journey westward could ever see the whole of it. Yes, he had found freedom here, and love, in the wilderness. Van Dyck was a large man. He wore Dutch pantaloons, boots with turnover tops, and a leather jerkin over his shirt. Now they were approaching the port, he had put on a wide-brimmed hat with a feather in it. He gazed at the girl. His daughter. Child of his sin. His sin for which, religion said, he must be punished. How old was she? Ten, eleven? She had been so excited when he'd agreed to take her downriver. She had her mother's eyes. A lovely Indian child. Pale Feather, her people called her. Only her pale skin betrayed the rest of her story. "Soon we shall be there." The Dutchman spoke in Algonquin, the lan­guage of the local tribes. New Amsterdam. A trading post. A fort and little town behind a pal­isade. But it was important, all the same, in the worldwide com mercial empire of the Dutch. Van Dyck was proud to be Dutch. Their country might be small, but the indomitable Netherlanders had stood up to the mighty, occupying Spanish Empire, and won their independence. It was his people who had constructed the great dykes to reclaim huge tracts of fertile land from the rage of the sea. It was the maritime Dutch who had built up a trading empire that was the envy of the nations. Their cities—Amsterdam, Delft, Antwerp—where the rows of tall, gabled houses lined stately canals and waterways, were havens for artists, scholars and freethinkers from all over Europe, in this, the golden age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. Yes, he was proud to be Dutch. In its lower reaches, the great river was tidal. This morning it was flow­ing down toward the ocean. During the afternoon, it would reverse itself and flow back toward the north. The girl was looking forward, downstream. Van Dyck sat facing her, his back resting against a large pile of skins, beaver mostly, that filled the center of the canoe. The canoe was large and broad, its sides made of tree bark, sturdy but light. Four Indians paddled, two fore, two aft. Just behind them, a second boat, manned by his own men, followed them down the stream. He'd needed to take on this Indian canoe to carry all the cargo he had bought. Upriver, the late-spring sky was thunderous; above them, gray clouds. But ahead, the water was bright. A sudden shaft of sunlight flashed from behind a cloud. The river made a tapping sound on the side of the boat, like a native drum giving him warning. The breeze on his face tingled, light as sparkling wine. He spoke again. He did not want to hurt her, but it had to be done."You must not say I am your father." The girl glanced down at the little stone pendant that hung around her neck. A tiny carved face, painted red and black. The face hung upside down, Indian fashion. Logical, in fact: when you lifted the pendant to look at it, the face would be staring at you the right way up. A lucky charm. The Masked One, Lord of the Forest, the keeper of nature's balance. Pale Feather did not answer him, but only gazed down at the face of her Indian god. What was she thinking? Did she understand? He could not tell. From behind the rocky cliffs that stretched up the western bank like high, stone palisades, there now came a distant rumble of thunder. The little girl smiled. His own people, the Dutchman thought, as men of the sea, had no liking for thunder. To them it brought harms and fears. But the Indians were wiser. They knew what it meant when the thunder spoke: the gods who dwelt in the lowest of the twelve heavens were pro­tecting the world from evil. The sound echoed down the river, and dissolved in space. Pale Feather let the pendant fall, a tiny gesture full of grace. Then she looked up. "Shall I meet your wife?" Dirk van Dyck gave a little intake of breath. His wife Margaretha had no idea he was so near. He'd sent no word ahead of his return. But could he really hope to bring the girl ashore and conceal her from his wife? He must have been mad. He twisted round, awkwardly, and stared down the river. They had already reached the northern end of the narrow territory called Manhattan, and they were running with the tide. It was too late to turn back now. Margaretha de Groot took a slow draw on the clay pipe in her sensual mouth, looked at the man with the wooden leg in a considering kind of way, and wondered what it would be like to sleep with him. Tall, upright, determined, with piercing eyes, he might be gray, and well into middle age now, but he was still indomitable. As for the peg leg, it was a badge of honor, a reminder of his battles. That wound might have killed some men, but not Peter Stuyvesant. He was walking down the street with surprising speed. As she gazed at the hard, polished wood, she felt herself give a tiny shudder, though he did not see it. What did he think of her? He liked her, she was sure of that. And why shouldn't he? She was a fine, full-bosomed woman in her thirties with a broad face and long blonde hair. But she hadn't run to fat, like many Dutchwomen. She was still in good trim, and there was something quite voluptuous about her. As for her liking for a pipe, most of the Dutch smoked pipes, men and women alike. He saw her, stopped, and smiled. "Good morning, Greet." Greet. A familiar form of address. Like most Dutchwomen, Margaretha van Dyck was normally known by her maiden name, Margaretha de Groot; and that is how she had expected him to address her. Of course, he'd known her since she was a girl. But even so . . . He was normally such a formal man. She almost blushed. "You are still alone?" She was standing in front of her house. It was a typical Dutch town house, a simple, rectangular dwelling, two stories high, with wooden sides and its narrow, gabled end turned to the street. This end displayed a handsome pattern of black and yellow brick. A short stairway led up to the street door, which was large and protected by a porch. This was the Dutch "stoop". The windows were not large, but the ensemble was made impressive by the high, stepped gable that the Dutch favored, and the roof ridge was crowned with a weathervane. "Your husband is still upriver?" Stuyvesant repeated. She nodded. "When will he return?" "Who knows?" She shrugged. She could hardly complain that her hus­band's business took him north. The trade in furs, especially the all-important beaver pelts, had been so great that the local Indians had hunted their animals almost to extinction. Van Dyck often had to go far north into the hinterland to get his supplies from the Iroquois. And he was remarkably successful. But did he have to stay away so long? In the early days of their mar­riage, his journeys had only taken a couple of weeks. But grad ually his absences had extended. He was a good husband when he was at home, attentive to her and loving to his children. Yet she couldn't help feeling neglected. Only that morning her little daughter had asked her when her father would be home. "As soon as he can," she had answered with a smile. "You may be sure of that." But was he avoiding her? Were there other women in his life? Loyalty was important to Margaretha de Groot. So it was not surpris­ing if, fearing her husband might be unfaithful, she told herself that he was morally weak and, dreaming of solace in more righteous arms, allowed a voice within her to whisper: "If only he were a man like Gover­nor Stuyvesant." "These are difficult times, Greet." Stuyvesant's face did not show it, but she could hear the sadness in his voice. "You know I have enemies." He was confiding in her. She felt a little rush of emotion. She wanted to put her hand on his arm, but didn't dare. "Those cursed English." She nodded. If the trading empire of the Dutch extended from the Orient to the Americas, the English merchants were not far behind. Sometimes the two Protestant nations acted together against their common enemies, the Catholic empires of Spain and Portugal; but most of the time they were rivals. Fifteen years ago, when Oliver Cromwell and his godly army took away King Charles of England's crown—and his head—the rivalry had intensified. The Dutch had a lucrative slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean. Cromwell's mission was clear. "The slave trade must belong to England." Many honest Dutchmen wondered if this brutal trafficking in humans was moral; the good Puritans of England had no such doubts. And soon Cromwell had taken Jamaica from the Spanish, to use as a slaving base. When Cromwell had died four years ago, and a second King Charles had been restored to the English throne, the same policy had continued. Word had already reached New Amsterdam that the English had attacked the Dutch slaving ports on the Guinea coast of Africa. And the rumor across the ocean was that they wanted not only the Dutchman's slave trade, but his port of New Amsterdam as well. New Amsterdam might not be large: a fort, a couple of wind mills, a church with a pointed spire; there was one small attempt at a canal, more like a large ditch really, and some streets of step-gabled houses which, together with some modest orchards and allotments, were enclosed within a wall that ran from west to east across Manhattan's southern tip. Yet it had a history. Ten years before even the Mayflower sailed, the Dutch West India Company, seeing the value of the vast natural harbor, had set up a trading post there. And now, after half a century of fits and starts, it had developed into a busy port with outlying settlements scattered for dozens of miles around—a territory which the Dutch called the New Netherland. It already had character. For two generations the Dutch and their neighbors, the Protestant, French-speaking Walloons, had been fighting for independence from their master, Catholic Spain. And they had won. Dutch and Walloons together had settled in New Amsterdam. It was a Walloon, Pierre Minuit—a name that was still pronounced in French, "Minwee"—who had bargained with the native Indians, four decades ago, to purchase the right to settle on Manhattan. From its birth, the tough, independent spirit of these mixed Protestant merchants had infused the place. But above all, it had position. The fort, to a soldier's eye, might not be impressive, but it dominated the southern tip of Manhattan Island where it jutted out into the wide waters of a magnificent, sheltered harbor. It guarded the entrance to the big North River. And Peter Stuyvesant was its ruler. The English enemy was already close. The New England men of Mass­achusetts, and especially of Connecticut with their devious governor, Winthrop, were always trying to poach territory from the outlying Dutch settlements. When Stuyvesant built up the stout wall and palisade across the northern side of the town, the New Englanders were politely told: "The wall is to keep the Indians out." But nobody was fooled. The wall was to keep out the English. The governor was still gazing at her. "I wish that the English were my only enemy." Ah, the poor man. He was far too good for them, the worthless people of New Amsterdam. The town contained some fifteen hundred people. About six hundred Dutch and Walloons, three hundred Germans and almost as many En ­glish who'd chosen to live under Dutch rule. The rest came from all parts of the world. There were even some Jews. And among them all, how many upright, righteous men? Not many, in her opinion. Margaretha was not a religious woman. The Dutch Reform Church was stern and Calvinistic; she didn't always abide by its rules. But she admired the few strong men who did—men like Bogard, the old dominie preacher, and Stuyvesant. At least they stood for order. When Stuyvesant clamped down on the excessive drinking in the town, or forbade some of the more obviously pagan folk festivals, or tried to keep the town free of the foolish Quakers or wretched Anabaptists, did any of the merchants support him? Hardly any. Not even the Dutch West India Company, whose servant he was, could be relied upon. When a par­cel of Sephardic Jews arrived from Brazil, and Stuyvesant told them to go elsewhere, the company ordered him: "Let them in. They're good for business." No one could deny that he'd been a fine governor. The men who came before him had mostly been corrupt buffoons. One idiot had even started an unnecessary war with the Indians that had nearly destroyed the colony. But Stuyvesant had learned to rule wisely. To the north, he kept the En ­glish at bay. To the south, he had made short work of an upstart Swedish colony on the Schuylkill River when it had become an irritation. He'd encouraged the sugar trade, and started to bring in more slaves. Every ship from Holland brought, as ballast, the best Dutch bricks to build the city's houses. The streets were clean, there was a little hospital now, and the school had a Latin master. Yet were the people grateful? Of course not. They resented his rule. They even thought they could govern themselves, the fools. Were these men capable of governing? She doubted it. The worst of them had been a two-faced lawyer, van der Donck. The Jonker, they'd called him: the squire. He was the one who went behind the governor's back, who composed letters to the West India Company and published complaints—all to bring down Stuyvesant. And for what? "The Jonker is a lover of liberty," her husband used to tell her. "You're all fools," she would cry. "He loves only himself. He'll rule you in Stuyvesant's place if you give him half the chance." Fortunately the Jonker had failed to destroy Stuyvesant, but he'd man­aged to get his hands on a big estate north of the city. He'd even written a book on New Netherland which her husband assured her was fine. The wretch was dead and gone now—thank God! But the people of New Amsterdam still called his big estate "The Jonker's Land", as if the fellow were still there. And his example had so infected the merchants that, in her opinion, Stuyvesant shouldn't trust any of them.

Editorial Reviews

"[Rutherfurd's] readers, even if they have never set foot on the island of Manhattan, will understand this crowded and multicultural city better than many who have spent their lives on Fifth Avenue, Broadway or Wall Street."
— The Washington Post Book World

From the Hardcover edition.