Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City

  • Title: Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City
  • Author: Russell Shorto
  • ISBN: 9780385534574
  • Page: 460
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Amsterdam A History of the World s Most Liberal City 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
    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 ButAn 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.

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      Posted by:Russell Shorto
      Published :2020-03-07T17:01:37+00:00

    About Russell Shorto


    1. Russell Shorto is the author, most recently, of Revolution Song, a new narrative of the American Revolution, which the New York Times called a remarkable achievement and the Chicago Tribune described as an engaging piece of historical detective work and narrative craft He is also the author of The Island at the Center of the World, a national bestseller about the Dutch founding of New York Shorto is senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute and was formerly the director of the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam.


    544 Comments


    1. This is an entertaining read and a good warm-up if preparing a visit Amsterdam. Do not expect a great deal more than that. This book will also be liked more by an American readership since most of the comparisons are made with the US. It is clearly written for them.Russell Shorto, who as is to be expected is an American, who decided to settle in Amsterdam as a freelance writer. He loves the city and that clearly transpires in the reading. His account is a mixture between personal experiences, hi [...]

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    2. UPDATE, 11/04/2013: I voted (wrote in) this book as "Best in Non-fiction" in the 2013 GoodReads Choice Awards.***SPOILER ALERT!***Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City, by Russell Shorto, pondered why a country that had been so liberal was suddenly becoming less tolerant. Mr. Shorto asserted that liberalism was born organically in Amsterdam, and that this paradigm was coupled with conservatism. "Amsterdam in 1971 was two cities: was a conservative, religious (Catholic, Protestant [...]

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    3. Read ARC via Netgalley.Amsterdam doesn’t quite fire the imagination for people the same way that Venice and Paris do. Romance, beauty, tragedy, history is what springs to mind when one thinks of Paris or Venice. Now think of Amsterdam. Which jumped into your mind first – drugs, prostitutes, or Anne Frank? Did you think of the famous Nightwatch, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, or pancakes? Nope, you thought of sex and drugs. And this is what Shorto elegantly counters in his book about the world famous c [...]

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    4. While occasionally interesting, “Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City” was not very thought provoking. I had many problems with Mr Shorto’s thesis. These, I shall enumerate (in no particular order and I would have given page numbers, but reading it it eBook format, page numbers are relative to your fort size and not absolute):1. Amsterdam was not an independent actor in a vacuum, and what is often most important, is what is happening elsewhere and the interactions of the t [...]

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    5. The Royal Palace of AmsterdamA marvellously readable book on the history of this city! It goes back to the 1500’s and 1600’s with the author outlining the distinctive features of Amsterdam and Holland in that era.It was never as dominated by the Church and Royalty as France and Spain were – the two major mainland European powers of the time. This was significant because Holland was not feudal and therefore did not have a top-down society. The Dutch were not subservient to an all-powerful C [...]

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    6. Uncorrected proof via netgalleyDedication: For Pamela, Anna, Eva, Anthony, Reinier, Hector and BenjaminThe opening is a warm family moment that instantly draws a reader in: A day in Amsterdam begins with me leaving my apartment with my toddler son in my arms, strapping him into his seat between the handlebars of my bicycle, working his blocky little sneakered feet into the footpads, then setting off through the quiet, generally breezy streets of our neighborhood, which is called Oud Zuid: Old So [...]

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    7. An extremely interesting book for anyone interested in European history, because it covers much more than the history of Amsterdam. Which makes sense when you consider that no city can come into existence in a vacuum. Starting with the first efforts of man to reclaim land from the sea and continuing on through wars, religious and political; economic developments; exploration and colonization of the outside world; and the lives of philosophers and kings, among others, the author ends the book wit [...]

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    8. I liked this book so much that when I was listening to the audio I went and bought the book to keep with me for the future. A fascinating trip through the history of Amsterdam as well as The Netherlands. Inspired by a fellow reader I've gone a small quest to learn more about the country of my ancestors. I have not been disappointed in this book. Although my family did not come from Amsterdam itself, I figured I would glean a little more understanding of Hollanders as well. I ended up learning so [...]

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    9. This was just okay. I skipped through the boring parts, which were quite a lot, possibly because I’ve been reading quite a bit about Amsterdam lately! Some of it was fine, but the rest was a bit monotonous and tedious for me. One part that I thought was particularly interesting was towards the end of this book, the author reminds us of the story of “The Boy Who Held Back the Sea” – one that many are familiar with. I had previously read that this is not a Dutch story, but was actually wri [...]

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    10. This is a very well written and historically accurate history of the most liberal city in the world. The author is an American who chose this city as his home for seven years. The writing shows his love for the city and his understanding of the polatics and history of it.I recommend it to all.Enjoy and Be Blessed.Diamond

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    11. This book is fantastic. It’s amazing that I could be interested in a book about a city I have never been to. But the author kept me reading.

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    12. I read this book while flying to and traveling around Amsterdam and the Hague. It really helped me to appreciate the past and the present. It provided a context for understanding the choices that people in the Netherlands make--as you have to negotiate streets with bikes and trams. As I visited museums and looked at all the portraits, I could understand the nature of the civil society. It is a real contrast to visiting England where there are portraits of kings, queens and nobles. Russell Shorto [...]

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    13. This book was received as part of the First Reads Giveaway.Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto is history as it should be written. Instead of a series of facts and dates linked together, Mr. Shorto has woven a narrative out of the people (both famous and not so), places and events that have made Amsterdam the city that it is. Mr. Shorto’s work traces Amsterdam’s evolution as it becomes “the most liberal city” in the world. While the writing style ma [...]

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    14. I really enjoyed this book, which was read by the author. The best parts were the chapters of earlier history. The chapters on WW II and modern times, while relevant, was much less interesting and a bit of a downer in many spots. It was especially unfortunate that he chose to mention Anne Frank in the first chapter, casting a bit of a pall over an otherwise upbeat beginning.

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    15. I was almost finished, and then I left the book on top of car and besmirched my wife's library account. Hopefully my actual trip to Amsterdam goes better.

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    16. Really good, engaging history and storytelling.

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    17. YesShorto addresses many different elements and historical events of the city of Amsterdam. But in my opinion, if he feels it’s not related closely enough to liberalism, it doesn’t get more then a paragraph to describe it. World War I? One paragraph. Perhaps indeed not relevant for Amsterdam, but then I’m no history-buff. It took me multiple times, putting the book away again and again to finish it. And though I’ve learnt a lot about liberalism and its presence in Amsterdam - I’m not s [...]

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    18. I love Amsterdam, the vibe, the colors, and the weather. different from my life and upbringing. so naturally i might be inclined to review this book better than it might be. but it was a good book. its not amsterdam as a city. but think of it why is amsterdam, amsterdam? done in a very clever way to integrate important issues in history linked to the city. not boring, smooth and utterly readable.

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    19. I finished the audiobook, but am reading this also because this is incredibly rich in idea and history. I could re-read this constantly. I love when someone theorizes connections you never would have thought of yourself and this book is full of those. I also loved the Auschwitz survivor who said there is no meaning in life, but there's beauty and wonder and we should enjoy that. <3

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    20. Recommended by a private guide while we toured The Hague, Delft, Schrivenhaven and The Keukenhof Gardens.rt of 4 days in Amsterdam. A wonderful history of Amsterdam - told in stories that captured us. Very accessible reading.

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    21. A good read. He weaves historical facts with social consequence that give you an understanding of the fabric of Dutch culture and beliefs, as well as Amsterdam itself. Recommended

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    22. You mean Amsterdam is much more than just the red light district and space cakes? I had a general idea of Amsterdam's history -- the dike building and water reclamation efforts, the Spanish rule and inquisition, Willem of Orange, religious tolerance, the Dutch East and West Indies Companies, Anne Frank, modern liberalism. But it was nice to have the author flesh out these topics and fill in a lot of useful background information to help explain why Amsterdam maintains its unique character among [...]

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    23. Amsterdam, toonbeeld van tolerantie. Het is een cliché, maar dit boek gaat in op de achtergrond van die tolerantie. In een tijd dat de meeste Europese bevolkingen nog gebukt gingen onder het gezag van monarchie en kerk, gingen de Amsterdammers (en andere Nederlanders) de strijd aan met een heel andere vijand: water. Ze wonnen land van de zee en dat gewonnen land vervolgens vrijwaren van de natuurkrachten, vereiste samenwerking tussen de burgers en vertrouwen in mekaar. In geval van nood moesten [...]

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    24. Amazing, like everything Russell Shorto writes. Fascinating history.

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    25. Russell Shorto knows his Amsterdam! He knows the social, economic, political, and religious history of the city; he has done a lot of research (of course you need already to know what something is about in order to know what to look up and discover more about), and brought all of it together extremely well.I love Amsterdam, city of canals, and city of bicycles. I've loved the city since before I first ventured there. I love landing at Schiphol and the sound of church bells. I love that some of m [...]

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    26. Ordinarily, reading the biography of a city can be rather tedious, but this is an exception. Amsterdam is the home to individual and social liberalism and how those strands meshed makes for an interesting narrative. Because it has been widely (and justifiably) hailed as a city practicing tolerance, Amsterdam was a laboratory for many of the values that defined the Enlightenment. Its influence has been immense and America would be among the many beneficiaries. On occasion, during periods of relig [...]

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    27. Be sure to read the sub-title as this is more than just a general history of the city. Shorto is trying to prove his thesis about liberalism (not at all in the American-political sense) but in the grander scale of what it means to be free. Shorto examines liberty and freedom as a construct that hangs in the balance between the individual on one end and the collective on the other. He does a pretty good job at providing historical context as to why Amsterdam evolved to be a much different place t [...]

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    28. 'Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City' by Russell Shorto is an easy and enjoyable read. Shorto does a fine job of making his point of what he believes to be Amsterdam's liberalism and how it came to be. It is a mindset, rather than a political position. One of his frequently used examples is the building of channels and urbanization of the city. There was democratization that naturally occurred in this feat that required all citizens to cooperate. This living together and tolera [...]

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    29. Tight as a drum, this volume is so much more than mere history of a city. Shorto is open about his affection for Amsterdam and it's hard not to find yourself similarly swept away while reading his latest book. Tying his exploration of the city's history with the continuing evolution and influence of it's liberal heritage is as appropriate as it is inspired.The tone is conversational but Shorto sacrifices no rigour in ensuring centuries of history are unravelled in a structured and tidy form, cha [...]

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    30. Interesting and well written and not even boring in the historical parts! I liked this book a lot, I'm just sorry that I read it till the end when we were already back from Amsterdam, I would have loved to see many more places now that I knew their story!Interessante e ben scritto e neanche troppo noioso nelle parti di storia! Questo libro mi é piaciuto parecchio, mi é dispiaciuto solo che l'ho finito quando ormai eravamo giá andati via da Amsterdam, perché avrei voluto vedere tante altre co [...]

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