For the bicentennial of its original publication-the first full-length book from the father of the American short story
In 1809, New Yorkers were buzzing about a series of classified ads concerning the whereabouts of Dutch historian Diedrich Knickerbocker. They were unaware that Washington Irving had invented the man entirely and placed the ads himself. Knickerbocker’s purported manuscript, A History of New York, was Irving’s own. Told from Knickerbocker’s point of view, A History of New York is a chronicle of New York’s fifty years under Dutch rule in the 1600s that plays fast and loose with the facts, to uproarious effect. Irving’s good-humored spoofing had staying power, and his satire provided the city with its first self-portrait. A History of New York propelled Irving to the heights of literary stardom and even made a little history of its own: New Yorkers are called Knickerbockers to this day.