A History of the World's Most Liberal City

Unknown - 2013
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An endlessly entertaining portrait of the city of Amsterdam and the ideas that make it unique, by the author of the acclaimed Island at the Center of the World

Tourists know Amsterdam as a picturesque city of low-slung brick houses lining tidy canals; student travelers know it for its legal brothels and hash bars; art lovers know it for Rembrandt's glorious portraits.

But the deeper history of Amsterdam, what makes it one of the most fascinating places on earth, is bound up in its unique geography-the constant battle of its citizens to keep the sea at bay and the democratic philosophy that this enduring struggle fostered. Amsterdam is the font of liberalism, in both its senses. Tolerance for free thinking and free love make it a place where, in the words of one of its mayors, "craziness is a value." But the city also fostered the deeper meaning of liberalism, one that profoundly influenced America: political and economic freedom. Amsterdam was home not only to religious dissidents and radical thinkers but to the world's first great global corporation.

In this effortlessly erudite account, Russell Shorto traces the idiosyncratic evolution of Amsterdam, showing how such disparate elements as herring anatomy, naked Anabaptists parading through the streets, and an intimate gathering in a sixteenth-century wine-tasting room had a profound effect on Dutch-and world-history. Weaving in his own experiences of his adopted home, Shorto provides an ever-surprising, intellectually engaging story of Amsterdam from the building of its first canals in the 1300s, through its brutal struggle for independence, its golden age as a vast empire, to its complex present in which its cherished ideals of liberalism are under siege.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2013]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780385534574
Characteristics: 357 pages : illustrations (some color), col. maps ; 25 cm
Call Number: 949.2352 SHO


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Nov 25, 2018

Fantastic book that is packed with so much interesting history. His writing style makes this a very accessible read.

Jun 11, 2018

This book/Audio Book is great! I may be moving to Amsterdam in a few months and wanted to learn more about its history. I’ve been to the city many times but didn’t really know the history. This audio book literally made me laugh and cry. It was very interesting. You will learn about the ancient history all the way to recent history. I was very impressed. The only thing I didn’t like about the audio book is the CDs end in random places, even cutting off some words sometimes. But other than that I highly recommend. I will definitely seek out other books/audio books by this author. I use audio books because I am not very good at reading but I also like to follow along with the physical book too. If that’s also what you like to do than this will definitely be a good option for you.


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Nov 25, 2018

"Life is absurd. It has no meaning. But it has beauty, and wonder, and we have to enjoy that."


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