Reading Room

This year’s Quadricentennial hoopla has spawned a load of books on the Valley’s history and culture. Here’s a peek at some of them.




Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture edited by Roger Panetta (Hudson River Museum/Fordham University Press, $59.95/$29.95) Thirteen original essays explore the vast influence the Dutch have had on Valley commerce, religion, culture, and language. Available in hardcover and paperback, the book is a companion to the Hudson River Museum’s ongoing exhibit of the same name.
 

Explorers, Fortunes and Love Letters: A Window on New Netherland

Explorers, Fortunes and Love Letters: A Window on New Netherland compiled by the New Netherland Institute (SUNY Press, $29.95) Historians offer perspectives on wide-ranging aspects of day-to-day life in the Dutch colonies. The writers touch upon everything from bread-baking to medical care — and yes, even courtship — in these 12 essays.
 

Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady, New York 1661-1710

Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady, New York 1661-1710 by Thomas E. Burke, Jr. (SUNY Press, $21.95) Burke draws on original documents in his history of our upstate neighbor. Unlike other Dutch colonies, Schenectady residents depended on farming, not trading, for their livelihood; the town’s outlying location made it a prime target for hostilities between rival French and English settlers.
 

Food, Drink and Celebrations of the Hudson Valley Dutch

Food, Drink and Celebrations of the Hudson Valley Dutch by Peter G. Rose (The History Press, $19.99) A sometime contributor to these pages, food historian Rose has been researching Dutch culinary traditions for a quarter century. Some of the treats we now enjoy, courtesy of the Dutch: doughnuts, waffles, pretzels, cole slaw, and cookies (which the settlers traded to Native Americans for beaver skins).
 

White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America

White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America by Fintan O’Toole (SUNY Press, $19.95) An Irish immigrant, Johnson served as the British government’s chief intermediary with the Iroquois, and commanded the forces that defeated the French in the 1775 battle of Lake George. A colorful character, he also kept two wives — one European, one Native American; became fluent in the Mohawk language; and was instrumental in recruiting the natives to join forces with the colonists during the American Revolution.
 

The Hudson Valley: A Cultural Guide

The Hudson Valley: A Cultural Guide by the Alliance for the Arts/text and photographs by Benjamin Swett (Quantuck Lane Press, $29.95) Arranged by counties — and stretching from Manhattan and northern New Jersey to Saratoga and beyond — this glove compartment-sized compendium includes more than 500 arts centers, museums, gardens, parks, historic houses, fairs, and other must-visit sites. Swett’s concise listings and evocative photos make this a useful guide to the region.

 

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