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Amsterdam : a history of the world's most liberal city

Author: Russell Shorto
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2013]
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
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  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Narrative non-fiction
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Russell Shorto
ISBN: 9780385534574 0385534574 9780307743756 0307743756
OCLC Number: 827528685
Description: 357 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Contents: A bicycle trip --
The water problem --
The alteration --
The company --
The liberal city --
"The rare happiness of living in a republic" --
Seeds of influence --
The two liberalisms --
"We inform you of the action of a powerful German force" --
The magic center.
Responsibility: Russell Shorto.

Abstract:

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 and its golden age as a vast empire, to its complex present in which its cherished ideals of liberalism are being questioned anew.--Book jacket.

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