A Review of the book, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, by Eric. W. Sanderson.
By Jessica Lee
While Mannahatta provides us with beautiful pictures and descriptions, the book gravely lacks significant political, economic and historical information and analysis to explain the forces that transformed the island to what we recognize today.
“Hudson’s quest was tied into the historic current washing over the powers of Europe … to reach around the globe: to discover, exploit, expand, to do business,” writes Russell Shorto in The Island at the Center of the World, a 2004 groundbreaking glimpse of the role of the Dutch in early American history. “As the European powers sent off their navies and adventurer-businessmen to roam the seas in history’s first truly global era, this island would become a fulcrum in the international power struggle, the key to control of a continent and a new world.”
Whenever we discuss the conquest of America, we should remember this point. The "noble" Pilgrims had economic motives and the "noble" explorers had religious motives. The two are inextricably intertwined.
For more on the subject, see Those Evil Europeans.