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The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto

Curve-billed Thrasher, Alamogordo NM, November 12, 2011

This comes to me on loan and highly recommended by Jay. I started it a week or so ago and am quite taken with it. My interest in early Hudson River valley history goes back a long way, mostly related to Dutch houses and more recently to the Indian's we met and displaced on our arrival in Red Rock - this is filling in some gaps for me.

The Prologue begins:

If you were to step inside the elevator in the lobby of the New York State Library in Albany, you would discover that, although the building has eleven floors, there is no button marked eight. To get to the eighth floor, which is closed to the public, you ride to seven, walk through a security door, state your business to a librarian at the desk, then go into another elevator and ride up one more flight.

Page one begins:

On a late summer's day in the year 1608, a gentleman of London made his way across that city. He was a man of ambition, intellect, arrogance, and drive - in short, a man of his age. Like our own, his was an era of expanding horizons and a rapidly shrinking world, in which the pursuit of individual dreams led to new discoveries, whinch in turn led to newer and bigger dreams.