"New York" is a well researched, wonderful inter-generational saga that spans several centuries, from the mid 1600’s until 2011. It traces the generations of several families through feast and famine, prosperity and poverty, hope and despair. Many of the characters develop and reconnect seamlessly and realistically, as time goes by.
The amazing history of New York is told wondrously in this novel, while adhering to the facts perfectly, albeit using a mixture of real and fictional characters. Several families meet again and again, generation after generation, notably the Masters and O’Donnells, the Kellers and the Carusos, even though their relationship and past connections to each other often remains unknown to all, but the reader.
Occasionally, the author creates an “aha” moment for the reader, when he introduces a little known fact and it becomes a painless, teaching moment, like how a street or a river got a name, or who founded a certain part of New York, or who saved the city from a stock market crash. The author’s subtle presentation of facts, important incidents and details, is never burdensome or tedious. The weaving together of both real characters (Tammany, J. P. Morgan, Roosevelt, Koch, Lincoln, Washington, Franklin, Douglas, Kennedy, King, to name just a few that appear throughout the narrative), and fictional characters is never contrived. It isn’t like the history books that can bore you to death with facts, and yet, it is filled with all of the necessary accurate information to create a clear picture of New York’s evolution and rise to the megalopolis it is today.
New York’s foundation is illuminated with such clarity and portrayed with such vigor, that the narrative simply flies by with lively images of life there. The Indians, the privateers, the Dutch, the English, the Irish, the financiers, the soldiers, the gangs, all play a role in the account and all fit in seamlessly, so the reader really understands how New York and its environs came to be and comes to understand all of the people who populated the area in the beginning- from the mid 1600’s onward- and the kind of courage needed to survive as New York City and America grew.
The reader of this audio is one of the best. He does a fabulous job as he is able to throw his voice into each character with authentic accents and precise emotion to fit the moment. He relates the brutality and difficult history of so many things like slavery, the Revolution, the Civil war, the suffrage movement, prohibition, the Civil Rights movement, the Depression, the rise and fall of the stock market, the rise of terrorism with the World Trade Center bombing and its eventual collapse, all with perfect and appropriate inflection, feeling and accent.
I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to painlessly learn the history of New York and even the United States, since New York was such a major part of its development, while having the added pleasure of reading a wonderful piece of historic fiction that will be memorable and not easily forgotten.