Russell Shorto

Russell Shorto's website

How to Plant a Tree in the Desert

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord was perplexing to Europeans for many reasons, not least of which was their determination that climate change represents a for-profit opportunity. In particular, the Dutch, who more or less invented water management in Europe, a millennium or so ago, have developed a specialty in climate-change-related innovation. [Continue to my latest piece at]

My Books…

Sunday, May 7, 2017
My 2004 national bestseller, which attempts to answer the question How did New York become New York?
My history of one of the world’s most remarkable cities, which explores how the struggle against water gave rise to secular art, the corporation, and the modern individual.
My upcoming book. “Shorto has taken the lives of six very different figures, ranging from a high British official to an African slave, and weaved them seamlessly together into an engaging, readable, and surprisingly complete account of the American Revolution. A tour de force.” Gordon S. Wood, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution

The Dutch Trump

Saturday, March 11, 2017

On the day of Donald Trump’s election, I happened to be in Amsterdam. That night, while people in the U.S. were still going to the polls, I found myself sitting in front of a room full of nervous-looking Europeans at Paradiso, which is normally a music venue, taking part in a public panel discussion about what was happening across the ocean… Continue to my piece.

Manuscript Submitted!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Just sent my new manuscript to the publisher. It’ll be at a bookstore near you in fall 2017. It tells the story of the intertwined lives of six people from the era of the American Revolution, and along the way tells the story of the fight for American freedom. Alas, it has much more present-day relevance than I thought it would when I started!

Amsterdam Revisited

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

This year we decided to take our summer vacation in Amsterdam. For my family, Amsterdam is not just any destination. I lived in the city for seven years and wrote a book about it. My partner, Pamela, lived there for 23 years. We met in Amsterdam. Our son was born in the city. We have friends, family, colleagues, memories and roots there. It is, logically and in our hearts, our second home. And yet, three years after returning to the United States, we realized that it had become shockingly remote in our lives. So while the trip would be a vacation, the real motive was to spend a couple of weeks reclaiming Amsterdam…….

Continue to my travel article in the New York Times.

The Frozen Mill

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Three years ago I moved to the panhandle of western Maryland. It’s a wild, mountainous region. There are some lovely Victorian town centers, and also hardscrabble hamlets tucked into the valleys that are comprised largely of low-slung ranch houses fronted by chain-link fences and rusted pickup trucks. The past has a way of lingering in such places; there is no economic development to sweep it away, so it just sits there. (My latest post on

photo by dave romero

Hip Hops

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Not long ago, I found myself in a beer-tasting room in upstate New York, looking out on a field of hops and sampling the craft brews of a company called Indian Ladder Farmstead. Among the list of beers chalked on a blackboard was one particularly hoppy creation named “Dr. Paul Matthews I.P.A.” Naturally I felt obliged to inquire about the eponymous doctor. The owner, Dietrich Gehring, told me that the name was an homage. He said his passion for wild hops had led him to Matthews, to whom he referred as the Lord of the Hops…

My latest post on

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