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Gotham
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Pulitzer Prize winner

About the Author

Edwin G. Burrows is Professor of History at Brooklyn College. Mike Wallace is Professor of History at John Jay College, City University of New York. Together they have collaborated for twenty years to produce 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 "Exceptionally readable...a spectacle, a cavalcade...much too well written to be merely an amalgam (although when synthesis is this monumental it is a massive scholarly achievement in itself."--The New Yorker "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 "Gotham is splendid. The parade of characters is like rush hour."--National Review "There was Melville, Ahab, and the great white whale, and now Burrows and Wallace and this, the first of two massive volumes on what remains perhaps the last great leviathan of American history: New York. There has simply never been anything quite like this extraordinarily ambitious and capacious history of the city. Analytically penetrating; indefatigably scholarly in its painstaking accumulation of detail and event; and for all its size written with remarkable energy and grace, it must stand as the definitive narrative reference work for scholars, students and anyone else obsessed with the endlessly fascinating sprawl of New York's four-century-long history."--Ric Burns, director, New York: A Documentary Film "If you thought you knew something about the city of New York, think again. Gotham is a page-turner, a fascinating, dramatic and compelling tale of the world's greatest city. You will not walk its streets again without calling to mind the stories that make New York what it is today. The authors have given us a history as real and palpable as if the events just occurred. It is a stunning work."--Jane Alexander "An epic narrative worthy of the world's greatest city, Gotham is a marvelously-written and sweeping book that is based throughout on the latest scholarship."--Kenneth T. Jackson, editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia of New York City "Gotham is a masterpiece. It is the best history of New York City ever written. It will be read a century from now."--Edward Robb Ellis, author a A Diary of a Century "Make no mistake: A comprehensive history of New York City is a bold undertaking, if not a foolish one. But Burrows and Wallace have pulled it off with style.... The authors are agile enough to bring to life the 'uppertendom' elite of antebellum New York as well as the world of the 'b'hoy,' the tough dandies who used to parade along the Bowery in the mid 19th-century."--The Wall Street Journal "I was transported back in time. I was fascinated as door after door was mentally opened as I turned page after page. I have never read a book that tells so interestingly who we are and how we got where we are."--Brook Astor "By any standard, Burrows and Wallace...have written a comprehensive and highly engrossing political, social, and cultural history of the Big Apple.... They take nothing for granted, whether examining the tale of the sale of Manhattan Island, the roots of various economic depressions, the Civil War draft riots, or the early maneuvering for women's suffrage. All the familiar characters from Peter Minuit and Petrus Stuyvesant to Boss Tweed and J.P. Morgan appear on the grand stage, though the authors instinctively veer from the great man theory whenever possible, describing great women and lesser lights whose actions had profound influence in and beyond the city. It is a strategy that serves them well as they reveal the changing moods of the people and the effects of technological advances on all strata of New York society."--Booklist "Like one of the zeppellins that furturists imagined would lie tethered to the masts of New York skyscrapers, the narrative of Gotham hovers over the city, drifting along thematic currents, occasionally catching a cataclysmic gust: it drops in for a vivid close-up only to reascend, with equal aplomb, for a global panorama."--The Los Angeles Times "Extraordinary.... A definitive history of New York to 1898. Like the city it seems to understand, Gotham manages to find a little space for almost everything.... A simple narrative that glides from social history to portraiture to neat summaries of local, national and global politics."--New York Observer "Dazzling, monumental.... More than a local history, this is a portrait of America reflected in its greatest city and that city's heroes, villains and ordinary citizens."--Manchester Journal "If New York is a great city, it certainly merits a great book, and one has just come along.... Burrows and Wallace have been working on this project for 20 years, and surely theirs is like no previous book about New York, not only recounting the town's history but capturing its audacity, creativity and variety--in a word, its spirit."--Parade "Monumental but never overwhelming: It is the work of master literary masons. The narrative is Romanesqye in its integrity and solidity of structure but reflects a Gothic precision in its detailing."--ForeWord "Extremely well written, this compelling drama beats most fiction in its ability to enchant and surprise."--Kim Long, The Bloomsbury Review "The most comprehensive examination to date of the city's history prior to 1900.... The authors weave together the unique details of New York's history with a generation's worth of recent and original scholarship, insightfully reconceptualizing the city's past. With publication of a second volume...Gotham may rank in importance with the multi-volume works on Thomas Jefferson by Dumas Malone and on the Civil War by Allan Nevins."--The Atlantic Monthly "This is no boring history. The pages are alive with excitement as New York evolves from one era to another, offering readers both well-known and little-known facts,."--Naples Daily News "Burrows and Wallace try to weave every aspect of the city's history--economy, social, political, military, architectural, and cultural--into a continuous, dramatic narrative, almost novelistic in feel."--Metropolis "In telling the story, Wallace and Burrows have explored the city on many levels: racial, social, economic, political. But they've kept the common touch, defining historical events through the eyes of many people: rich and poor; famous and obscure; white, black, Irish, Catholic and Jewish. The result reads like a novel and bursts with characters...that seem to have sprung from the pen of Dickens." --Laurence Chollet, Sunday Record "The authors of Gotham, Edwin Burrows and Mike Wallace, are history professors at New York colleges. They have responded to this glut of rich ingredients by spreading them before us as a lavish and dazzling banquet, course following course in a digestible sequence that amounts to an impressive feat of editorial organization." --The Economist "This gigantic volume marvelously conveys the enterprise and enthusiasm that has fulled the world's most exciting city from its earliest days."--The Economist "An astonishingly readable 1,383-page account of the city from its origins to 1898, when the five boroughs were consolidated into 'Greater New York'....witty, well-written."--Fred Siegel, The Weekly Standard "Contrary to what the reader might assume upon beginning this book, it's a remarkably good read, especially given the sheer breadth and length of the undertaking. The book contains incredible detail that's presented in clear, simple, yet complete terms and is humorous at times."--Jack McCray, Posts and Courier

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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