Best-selling author Russell Shorto delivers WiT lecture at AUC

7 February 2017

On Thursday, 2 February 2017, AUC hosted a very special Who's in Town speaker: Russell Shorto. Organised by the U.S. Consulate Youth Advisory Board, the best-selling American author stopped by AUC during his short visit in the Netherlands to deliver a Who's in Town (WiT) lecture discussing the Dutch role in the development of Manhattan and how this legacy still impacts the city today.

Russell Shorto is the author of several books, including Amsterdam and The Island at the Center of the World, as well as being a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. His books have been published in fourteen languages and has earned him multiple awards and accolades. From 2008-2013, he was the director of the John Adams Institute (an independent podium for American culture) in Amsterdam. 

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Russell Shorto with U.S. Consulate Youth Advisory Board Amsterdam

Exploring Manhattan's Dutch roots through narratives

Attended by both AUC students and external visitors, Shorto's lecture "How the Dutch Made New York" traced the Dutch role in the establishment of the European settlement of Manhattan. More than recounting historical dates, Shorto's narrative style of storytelling also added details that allowed the audience to get a better sense of the characters and personalities involved in shaping both governmental and cultural life in what would become Nieuw Amsterdam and, eventually, New York City.  

Shorto captured the audience's attention by following the development of ideas over time. He explained how concepts of tolerance and cultural development permeated Dutch-American history; how colonialism turned into a rooted society; and how a small Dutch settlement with defensive military walls transformed into the global heart of capitalism now known as Wall Street.

The enthusiastic audience encompassed various ages and backgrounds, all with a shared fascination for American history and the impact of the Dutch on the establishment of contemporary American culture. After the lecture, the audience had the opportunity to ask Shorto questions on his research, books, articles and the relationship between Dutch and American culture. 

Thanks to the U.S. Consulate Youth Advisory Board Amsterdam

The lecture was organised by the U.S. Consulate Youth Advisory Board Amsterdam. This board, which consists of both AUC students and alumni, was established as part of the public outreach programme of the U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam. Through close cooperation with several national and international parties, including the U.S Consulate, the John Adams Institute and the Fulbright Center, the board works on several American-related events in the Amsterdam region. Through this network, the board managed to organise this successful event and looks forward to organising more in the near future. 

Text contribution by U.S. Consulate Youth Advisory Board Member Amerens Jongsma

Published by  Amsterdam University College