ABOUT THIS BOOK
Bradley's stunning volume offers a surprising and delightful glimpse behind the scenes of New York history, and invites readers into the world of Diedrich Knickerbocker, the antihero who surprised everyone by becoming the standard-bearer for the city's exceptional sense of self, or what we now call a New York "attitude."
A 2010 AAUP Best of the Best title
“A briskly engaging book.” —Christopher Benfey, New York Review of Books
“This is cultural history at its best.” —Journal of American Culture
“Elizabeth L. Bradley sorts, catalogues and deciphers the shifting Knickerbocker currents in a metropolis constantly reinventing itself. She does the sturdy Dutchman proud in a scholarly and polished rendition.” —Star-Ledger
“Bradley creates an engaging account of the city through the fictional Knickerbocker, who was a steady presence ‘over two centuries of wrenching urban transformation, from the post-colonial to the postmodern.’ Bradley is a perceptive and lively writer and does a superb job of tracing the many strands of the Knickerbocker myth. She provided the historical context necessary to illustrate the ways the Knickerbocker brand was invoked and provides deft analysis of the cultural meanings it accrued.” —Bookforum
Elizabeth L. Bradley is the Senior Director of Programs and Engagement at Historic Hudson Valley. She is the author of Cityscopes: New York and has edited several volumes of Washington Irving's work. Dr. Bradley has written for The New York Times, Smithsonian.com, Salon, and McSweeney's, among other publications.
"A briskly engaging book."
— Christopher Benfey, New York Review of Books
"This is cultural history at its best."
— The Journal of American Culture
"Elizabeth L. Bradley sorts, catalogues and deciphers the shifting Knickerbocker currents in a metropolis constantly reinventing itself. She does the sturdy Dutchman proud in a scholarly and polished rendition."
— The Star-Ledger
"An engaging account of the city through the fictional Knickerbocker, who was a steady presence 'over two centuries of wrenching urban transformation, from the post-colonial to the postmodern.' ... Bradley is a perceptive and lively writer and does a superb job of tracing the many strands of the Knickerbocker myth. She provides the historical context necessary to illustrate the ways the Knickerbocker brand was invoked and provides deft analysis of the cultural meanings it accrued."
"Diedrich Knickerbocker...gets a history and identity worthy of New York's swagger in this exploration by Bradley of how Knickerbocker shaped the city's identity. Literary historians and proud New Yorkers alike will delight in the character who brought pomp and legend to the city first nicknamed Gotham by Washington Irving 200 years ago."
— Publishers Weekly
"Brims with information about the burgeoning use of Knickerbocker as a literary device in novels, newspaper articles, and advertisements as a touchstone of popular culture. Entertaining enough for the general reader—including those planning a trip to one of the world's most visited cities—and amply annotated for the scholar, this is highly recommended."
— Library Journal
"These days the word 'knickerbocker' represents 'little more than a comical handle, a Dutch-inflected sound—or a heartbreaking season at Madison Square Garden,' observes Elizabeth Bradley in Knickerbocker: The Myth Behind New York. Her slender, charming volume aims to change that. Bradley delves into the 200-year history of the term, which originated in Washington Irving's 1809 History of New York and given that New Yorkers are famously preoccupied with their own exceptionalism, they would do well to learn more about one of the city's original boosters."
— Barnes & Noble Review
"Knickerbocker is a very valuable work, particularly as one of the few contemporary histories to explore how fictional texts and reading practices can have material effects on a particular place. Bradley's analysis of Knickerbocker's significance will be of great interest to literary scholars and historians of the American nineteenth century, and her counternarrative of New York's development will reward the professional and general reader alike."
"Knickerbocker is a storied name steeped in tradition—one that I am proud to have been a part of. Bradley's Knickerbocker: The Myth Behind New York offers a unique examination of how a name familiarized by Washington Irving two hundred years ago grew to become a cultural symbol of New York."
— Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley
"Those who puzzle at the incessant branding and rebranding of New York City would do well to read this fascinating, sophisticated, and witty social history of a myth. Bradley knows her facts and shrewdly and convincingly interprets them. A delightful contribution to urban studies."
— Phillip Lopate, author of Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan
"Is New York different from other cities, or does it just have different myths? Focusing on a tale first spun by Washington Irving two centuries ago, Knickerbocker answers this question with grace and skill. It is a delight to read."
— Kenneth T. Jackson, editor-in-chief, The Encyclopedia of New York