Tuesday 2 May 2023

Rutherfurd, Edward "New York"

Rutherfurd, Edward "New York" - 2009

I am sad. Because this is the last book I got to read by Edward Rutherfurd. At least for the time being. I hope he will write more. And hope there is. On his official website (here) he has a category with interesting facts about the towns and countries he has written about so far and there are a few facts about Egypt. So maybe he is working on a new one about Egypt. Would be a nice theme. If you don't have any other ideas, Mr. Rutherfurd, there are a few subjects that would certainly go down well: Vikings, Romans, Ottomans, Germany/Prussia/Goths, South America, Japan, Arabia, Palestine/Israel … I could read books by you on any of the subjects. Or any subject of your choosing. Just write another book. Thank you!

New York is the melting pot of the world. People come from everywhere but at the beginning mainly from the Netherlands and England, then other nations follow, Italians, Germans, slaves from Africa, refugees from all areas, so that in the end you can't even guess that a completely different people lived here before the Europeans made it their second home. But also the Native Americans appear.

In 1664, the city is still called New Amsterdam and we get to know some of the first European inhabitants, the van Dyck family from the Netherlands, quickly joined by the Masters from England. And it is these two families that the book takes as examples for the New Yorkers. Other characters follow slowly, the slave Quash, the O'Donnells and the Kellers, the Whites and the Carusos, the Adlers and the Cohens and all their descendants. There is a family for every ethnic background of the Big Apple. We follow history through these characters but also get to meet the famous people of the centuries, starting with George Washington. From the beginnings of the city, when it was still a small settlement that belonged to the colonial province New Netherland, and hence to the Dutch Republic, through the years of an English colony, the War of Independence and all the other subsequent wars that had an impact on the city, their raise to an important trade center as well as their various crashes. And we see the devastation on September 11th as well as the aftermath.

Nobody can put history better into very readable novels as Edward Rutherfurd. But should you know of other great books like this, please let me know.

And here's a great quote that could be in any book:
"He who destroys a good book, kills reason itself."

From the back cover:

"New York: a city where dreams are born.

And now, the story of the world's most vibrant and exciting city is chronicled in a novel as unforgettable as the city itself, as international bestseller Edward Rutherfurd tells the epic story of the Master family.From the city's birth over three hundred years ago to the tragedy and the heroism of 9/11, Rutherfurd's gripping story takes us on a journey encompassing the War of Independence and the Civil War, the gangs of
New York and the Ellis Island immigrants. From the glittering wealth of Fifth Avenue society, to the devastation of the Wall Street Crash and the ghettos of the Lower East Side, it is a story as ambitious and dramatic as the city which inspired it.

NEW YORK is not just the story of a city. It's also the very human story of a family - their lives and loves, their triumphs and their failures - and so a spellbinding and moving story of the modern world."

And another one:

"New York is a sweeping, four-century tale set in the most exciting city on earth. Magnificently researched with the help of leading New York historians, this novel follows the fortunes of the Van Dyck and Master families, and the descendants of Quash the African slave, from the early days of Manhattan's Indian settlements and Dutch New Amsterdam, through the English takeover, the War of Independence, when New York was the British headquarters, and the nineteenth century, when New Yorkers created the canals and railroads that opened up the American West.

Along the way we meet the Kellers, German shopkeepers who produce a famous photographer, and the O'Donnell family, who emerge from the gangs of
New York, rise through Tammany Hall and marry into the English aristocracy. We discover how the city almost left the Union at the start of the Civil War, and experienced the terrible Draft Riots 1863 and the Great Blizzard of 1888. At the start of the twentieth century, the Carusos immigrate through Ellis Island, witness the great Crash of 1929, and help construct the Empire State Building. The Adlers of Brooklyn experience anti-semitism between the two World Wars, and the Masters, as bankers and lawyers, seek their fortunes through the greed of the eighties and nineties, and come through a life-changing crisis in the tragedy of 9/11.

Larger-than-life historical characters fill the background: Stuyvesant, the Dutchman, Lord Cornbury the transvestite English Governor, George Washington, Ben Franklin who tried to keep America British, Lincoln who made one of his greatest speeches in the city, the titanic JP Morgan, Tammany Hall's Fernando Wood and Boss Tweed, legendary socialites like Mrs. Astor, and memorable modern city figures like La Guardia, Robert Moses, and Mayor Koch.

Find a link to all my reviews on his other novels here.


  1. Definitely an interesting book to read, to get the very early history.

    1. I'm aware that this is a novel but I know, after reading all his books, and some of them on parts of this world that I know well enough, that Edward Rutherfurd always does good research. His books are all fantastic.

  2. I think I'm putting off this book because I'm afraid of running out of Edward Rutherfurd books. It would be really helpful for me to understand this history in the ways that his books aid in understanding, though, so I better get to this one.

    1. Oh, a fellow Rutherfurd fan!!! I totally understand, Joy. That was the same for me, that's why I only just read it and not a couple of years ago when it first came out. But I do not want to deny me the pleasure of reading his books, either, so it's a toubh decision. Hopefully, he'll right more.

  3. This is the only book of his that I've read, but I loved it! Being a New Yorker, I could see so much of it in my mind as I read.

    1. Oh, that is nice to know, Susan, thanks. I think you will enjoy all his other books just as much and I'm jealous that you have all those to look forward to.