A Description of New Netherland (The Iroquoians and Their World)

by Adriaen van der Donck

Other authorsRussell Shorto (Foreword), William A. Starna (Editor), Charles T. Gehring (Editor), Diederik Willem Goedhuys (Translator)
Paperback, 2010




University of Nebraska Press (2010), Edition: Reprint, 204 pages


This edition of A Description of New Netherland provides the first complete and accurate English-language translation of an essential first-hand account of the lives and world of Dutch colonists and northeastern Native communities in the seventeenth century. Adriaen van der Donck, a graduate of Leiden University in the 1640s, became the law enforcement officer for the Dutch patroonship of Rensselaerswijck, located along the upper Hudson River. His position enabled him to interact extensively with Dutch colonists and the local Algonquians and Iroquoians. An astute observer, detailed recorder, a

User reviews

LibraryThing member PhyllisHarrison
Authors that contribute greatly to our understanding of the world around us need to be recognized and appreciated, even if the audience is limited by lack of interest, inability to comprehend the importance of the work, or by design. Adriaen Van Der Donck probably intended this work as a corporate
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report, to inform the Directors of the Dutch West India Company as to what pitfalls and possibilities were present in one of their small outposts in the wilderness.
No fortune teller Adriaen, he incorrectly (in hindsight) states that invasion and conquest is nearly impossible (not so- the English would accomplish the feat with just a minor force only a decade or two later), but he also suggests that the colony should not be abandonned, as seems likely at the time of his writing due to more urgent company concerns.
Hindsight being 20/20, or at least better than more myopic vision, not only would Adriaen Van Der Donck not live to see what the company would do and how it would lose the colony, but he surely did not see and could not even imagine the city of the world that is present-day New York City.
That said, it is not a perfect work by any stretch of the imagination. Luckily for us, the improved translation by Diederick Willem Goedhuys and excellent editing by Charles T. Gehring and William A. Starna separate the facts as Van Der Donck knows them from the less-than accurate hearsay and "borrowing" of earlier writers by the 17th century reporter, notably Samuel De Champlain, when describing something or someone completely different (Iroquoians as opposed to Algonkians). The care and knowledge of these four men together give us a priceless picture of the birth of a great new city and nation, an easy to read treasure as interesting (or more!) in the computer--written notes as it is in the body of the work that had originally been penned by quill. I give the translator and editors five stars plus and for a slightly less exacting Adriaen Van Der Donck four stars. He can be forgiven because he was, after all, a student of the law and not a scholar or scientist.
Don't be intimidated - read this wonderful little 17th century travel log and go on the journey yourself.
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LibraryThing member RickGeissal
It was very interesting to read a book written in 1648, and it was very detailed in its descriptions of many aspects of the territory he wrote about.

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Physical description

204 p.; 8.5 inches


0803232837 / 9780803232839
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