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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 193

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The Island at the Center of the World is a book about Dutch Manhattan (then called New Amsterdam) and the effect it had on the United States. The emphasis of this book is on introducing how the Dutch affected both New York City and America in general. This can be seen in many quotes from the book, such as this one:

Manhattan is where America began.

It also becomes quickly apparent in the book how the Dutch contributed to the early spirit of America. For example, the author, Russell Shorto, describes this effect this way:

Upward mobility was part of the Dutch character: if you worked hard and were smart, you rose in stature.

Given how important the idea of working hard and making something of yourself is to the American spirit, it makes sense to credit the Dutch with part of this.

It’s also possible to credit the Dutch with adding to other aspects of later American beliefs, including the home being the castle. Shorto writes:

It was the Dutch of this era who invented the idea of the homes as a personal, intimate space; one might say they invented coziness.