First-Year Text: The Island at the Center of the World

Study Guide

First Year Text - Discussion Questions

The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto

  1. What's up with the title? What's the island referred to, and in what sense is it at the center of the world?
  2. The book argues in essence that our understanding of early American history leaves out an important founding group: the Dutch. How did they get erased from history?
  3. Who are the two main players in the narrative of the book? What are their roles? Over what do they clash?
  4. Over what territory on the East Coast did the Dutch colony of New Netherland stretch? How many future states were included in it? What was its capital?
  5. The book boils down the Dutch contribution to New York history to two main things. What are they?
  6. The book also argues that these same two things influenced America at large. How did that happen?
  7. List some places in New York City today that owe their names to the Dutch colony of New Netherland.

Interviews with the Author