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Gotham
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Pulitzer Prize winner

About the Author

Edwin G. Burrows is Professor of History at Brooklyn University, City University of New York. Mike Wallace is Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Together they have collaborated for twenty years to produve this book, the first volume in the definitive history of New York City

Reviews

As grand-scale and ambitious as New York City itself, this book was 20 years in the making, but anyone interested in American or urban history will find it worth the wait. The authors, both New York academics, start with the teeming islands and waterways Europeans first encountered in New York harbor and move right up to the consolidation of the five boroughs to create "an imperial city." An almost frightening amount of research went into preparing the highly detailed text, but the result is a real saga that proves why New York is still the greatest city in the world. (LJ 9/15/98)


"Here is a book sure to bring us up to speed on what took place in Manhattan before 1898, as far back as the ice age, when 'packs of glaciers crept down from Labrador....The authors...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."--The New York Times Book Review
"Gotham is a masterwork--a great tapestry of a book that weaves a vast array of personalities, dramatic episodes and illuminating ancedotes into a rich and colorful whole. This is a work not just for lovers of New York, but for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of American history....Happily, Burrows and Wallace are first-rate writers, fluid in their handling of the barebones statistics, enthralling in their handling of moments of high drama. Their vivid account of the draft riots of 1863, for example, is as blood-curdling as anything in a Stephen King thriller."--Baltimore Sun
"A tome matching the size of its subject, this doorstopper more than justifies the 20 years Burrows and Wallace spent on it....Its massive size permits the inclusion of details, minor characters and anecdotes of everyday life that vibrantly communicate the city's genesis and evolution. The authors have synthesized histories from various perspectives--cultural, economic, political, etc.--into a novelistic narrative, providing the context for stories of the diverse denizens who shaped the city...[A] historical work that merits the term 'definitive' yet still manages to entertain....'Gotham' denotes a town of tricksters and fools, and this book is full of both....The rest will read with pleasure and await the companion volume's promised appearance."--Publishers Weekly
"Massive, detailed and magnificently written...it reads as easily as a smoothly crafted novel...a book that will surely stand for a long time as an exemplar of urban history--social, economic, political, religious, cultural--and woven them into a seamless tapestry that covers every aspect of the long and colorful history of the city they so lovingly chronicle. This is no dry history; it is populated with thousands of people, hundreds of anecdotes and lots and lots of delightfully informative and entertaining vignettes. It would be difficult to imagine a more comprehensive or better written history."--The Chattanooga Times
"A suitably vast, sprawling, and all-consuming history of the rapid evolution of New York City from primordial forest into the world's most fabulous city....Linking economic, cultural, demographic, and political history, the authors trace the city's development from a peripheral Dutch frontier post through its growth into a vital shipping point in the British mercantile system....Along the way the authors introduce a crazy quilt of characters from the political, industrial, cultural, and literary worlds, and from the underworld as well....Magisterial, colorful, meticulously researched, and richly detailed; destined to be the definitive history of early New York City."--Kirkus Reviews

A tome matching the size of its subject, this doorstopper (the first of a two-volume history) more than justifies the 20 years Burrows and Wallace spent on itÄnot to mention the space it will take on the nightstands of New Yorkers actual, former, future and presumptive. Its massive size permits the inclusion of details, minor characters and anecdotes of everyday life that vibrantly communicate the city's genesis and evolution. The authors have synthesized histories from various perspectivesÄcultural, economic, political, etc.Äinto a novelistic narrative, providing the context for stories of the diverse denizens who shaped the city. Both New York academics (Brooklyn College and CUNY, respectively), Burrows and Wallace have produced a historical work that merits the term "definitive" yet still manages to entertain. Underneath reasoned academic prose lies a populist bent, unflinching in relating ugly events and describing the unsavory behavior of prominent figures; in its original sense, "Gotham" denotes a town of tricksters and fools, and this book is full of both. Vague documentation may, on occasion, frustrate the academic reader, but such quibbles should be left to professional historians. The rest will read with pleasure and await the companion volume's promised appearance in the year 2000. 160 photos and linecuts and 15 maps not seen by PW. 40,000 copy first printing. (Nov.)

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