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The Great Mistake

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  25 ratings  ·  15 reviews
From the acclaimed author of High Dive comes an enveloping, exultant novel of New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, a story of one man's rise to fame and fortune, and his mysterious murder.

Andrew Haswell Green is dead, shot at the venerable age of eighty-three, when he thought life could hold no more surprises. The killing--on Park Avenue, in broad daylight,
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: June 15th 2021 by Knopf Publishing Group
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  • The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee
    The Great Mistake
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    Release date: Jun 15, 2021
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    Average rating 4.08  · 
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    Adam Dalva
    Apr 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    Terrific, really terrific. A beautifully researched examination of Andrew Haswell Green, with an innovative structure, bold writing, and a ton of heart. The scenes with Samuel Tilden exploded off the page - marvelous to learn about a figure while marveling at the quality of Lee's prose.

    “New York is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel.”
    ...more
    Annette
    Apr 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
    What shaped Andrew Haswell Green to become one of the most influential people shaping the map of New York City as we know it today? And what drove another man to murder Green at the age of eighty-three?

    NYC, 1903: “The last attempt on the life of Andrew Haswell Green took place on Park Avenue in 1903.” Mrs. Bray, a housekeeper, is questioned at a police station, repeatedly by different officers. She relates the events of the day leading to murder, and through her eyes we glimpse who her employer
    ...more
    Ari Levine
    A strangely subversive historical novel about the life, thwarted sexuality, and murder of a now-forgotten historical figure who once dominated Gilded Age New York. The novel's title is meaningful in many different personal and political contexts.

    I knew next to nothing about Andrew Haswell Green's (1820-1903), and his only memorial is a marble bench in a distant corner of Central Park, near Harlem Meer. But, as we learn here, Green was the Robert Moses of his day. He was extremely influential in
    ...more
    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
    This book is a historical novel about the life and death of the real-life 19th century lawyer, civic leader and city-planner Andrew Haswell Green the so-called “Father of Greater New York” who developed (among other things) Central Park, the Bronx Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His final major act was drawing up the plans for including Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island in a greater New York – the criticism of which at the time gave this book its title.

    The book opens with Haswell’s murd
    ...more
    Peter Boyle
    Jun 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
    This captivating novel focuses on the life of Andrew Haswell Green, the man who is considered "the Father of Greater New York." The story begins with his death, murdered outside his front door by a distressed individual named Cornelius Williams. The book then splits into two narratives. The first takes a look at highlights from Green's life. We learn about his humble beginnings, working on the meagre family farm. In his teens, he is sent to New York to become an apprentice in a general store, in ...more
    Erik
    Jun 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: lgbt
    Jonathan Lee's The Great Mistake brings into the light the story of the father of Greater New York City, Andrew Green - a man forgotten to history but brought back to life in this bit of historical fiction.

    Andrew Green finds himself cast from his family's farm after an adolescent sexual encounter with another boy in the mid-19th Century. Sent to New York to work as a cashier at a mercantile shop, he meets Samuel Tilden, a man of means who will eventually go on to become the Governor of New York
    ...more
    fatma
    3.5 stars

    "He would go looking for it everywhere in the years to come. Love, love, love. As if it were a coin to be found in a field, or a park. As if it could be obtained without forfeiture."

    I think I wanted to like this more than I did, but I still really did like it.

    First of all: Jonathan Lee's writing is absolutely exquisite. I could run through a whole laundry list of adjectives, here: beautiful, evocative, moving, earnest, endearing. Reading The Great Mistake, you get the sense that Lee is
    ...more
    Siobhan
    Apr 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
    The Great Mistake is a historical novel about the transformation of a city and a man, and the unravelling of his death. Andrew Haswell Green is shot outside his New York City home in 1903, an old man known for his work transforming New York. A detective investigates what happened, and if it really could be a case of mistaken identity, with Green apparently unsure why the man was there to shoot him. Alongside this story runs another, that of Green's life: growing up on a farm, looking for opportu ...more
    LLDW
    Jun 05, 2021 marked it as to-read
    Notes to self: To be released mid-June 2021. Link to The Guardian review: https://www.theguardian.com/books/202... ...more
    Candace
    Mar 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
    When I started "The Great Mistake," I thought Andrew Haswell Green must be a fictional character--how could one person be responsible for so much of what makes New York great? The public library, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum were all developed by this man, who began life as a New England farm boy. Even though his achievements are mind-boggling, Andrew Green is best known for having been shot on the front steps of his home in 1903 by a Black man looking for "Mrs. Davis." Did Andrew Green ...more
    Sue
    Jun 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    In The Great Mistake, author Jonathan Lee tells the intriguing story of Andrew Haswell Green, nicknamed “the father of Greater New York.” A community leader behind the consolidation of New York City and the development of Central Park, New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Bronx Zoo, 83-year-old Green was murdered outside the front door of his Park Avenue townhouse on Friday, November 13th, 1903.

    Chapter 1 opens with the “fateful
    ...more
    Greg
    May 14, 2021 rated it liked it
    This is a mixture of historical fiction and a detective story. Andrew Haswell Green was a real person who was responsible for many of NYC's most important civic projects, the most significant being Central Park. Also, as an octogenarian, he was shot to death in front of his home on Park Avenue. Although the murderer was apprehended, little is known about the motive. Likewise, not much is known about Green's background. With these two tantalizing mysteries in hand, Lee has fashioned an intriguing ...more
    Gina
    Jan 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I'm a bit stuck between 2 and 3 stars. The book is undoubtedly well written, but its subject didn't appeal to me as much as his earlier 'Joy'. Andrew Green, the creator of much of municipal New York, including Central Park and The Metropolitan Museum, was shot dead outside his home in his 80s. Whilst the characterisation was excellent, the pages on municipal goings on didn't appeal. ...more
    Leslie
    Jun 09, 2021 marked it as to-read
    Literary Hub's "38 Novels You Need to Read This Summer," May 25, 2021 ...more
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    “THE GREAT MISTAKE is a great New York story.” —Entertainment Weekly

    “The best American novel of the year.” —The Guardian on THE GREAT MISTAKE

    “Seriously entertaining...The detective work is ingenious.” —The Sunday Times (London)

    JONATHAN LEE's new novel, THE GREAT MISTAKE (June 2021) dramatizes the mysterious life and murder of a real historical figure — Andrew Haswell Green — who was central to the
    ...more

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