This week I read an interesting book: The island at the center of the world: the epic story of Dutch Manhattan and the forgotten colony that shaped America. It gives a new perspective on the Dutch contribution to the American society as we know it today.
The last couple of decades, the history of the New Netherlands is being re-written as new documents become available. The New Netherlands Project is translating thousands of pages of seventeenth-century Dutch records. Russell Shorto, the author, used this research for his book.
The book makes a good argument that the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam is far more similar to the United States today than the English settlements started by the Pilgrim Fathers. The New Netherlands were a melting pot, just like the American society would one day be.
I found the book very interesting to read because it does away with many preconceptions, sheds light on traditions with Dutch roots (cookies, Santaclaus, cole slaw) and really comes to life thanks to the vivid characters that appear in the book. I wrote a new article on this website about one of them, Adriaen van der Donck. I also used the new insights I got from this book to update the article about the history of the New Netherlands.
See Amazon for more information about this book.