With its prominent red light district and freely available recreational drugs, Amsterdam's reputation as a hotspot of Western liberalism is well known, but what about those stolid burghers of yore? This book reveals the history behind Amsterdam's transformation from marshy swampland to sophisticated city and everything in between.
Whether you are an intending traveller or a European history enthusiast, this book ticks all the boxes with its comprehensive facts and anecdotes and its examination of the events, people and ideas that created Amsterdam and continue to influence its evolution today.
Took a while to get through, but was well worth it. We already used some of the knowledge gained at our local quiz night.
Well-written book, and extremely enlightening. We learned so much of the history and the attitudes that have impacted the world.
Even split between those who thought it was "too meaty" and those who loved it.
Overall impression of the book was a good one, despite the initial struggle to engage. Once the readers had got over the slow start and the "heaviness" in some parts, the book touched on so many and varied subjects in relation to the Dutch culture and the influence that they have/had around the world. The book gleaned much discussion and once again, not a book many would have chosen, but in the end majority enjoyed.
Quite a wonderful book, most of us thought...So full of interest in so many spheres - who would have thought history could be so gripping! Then there were the philosophers and artists, the men and women of science and industry and politics, whose stories were told so interestingly. The development of ideas - we were not aware that Amsterdam had such a pivotal part to play. Pictures too; and the notes and questions were very good as well. We could have discussed it for hours.
Excellent story. Those of us who read it were very vocal in our recommendation of it, one member bought her own copy for her family. The beginning and end chapters were the most engaging.
This was a fascinating book drawing together so many threads to chronicle an idea. Because of its density one member took notes as she read to keep track of it all. Another had to read only in snippets. The discussion roamed easily from one period of history to another, to church history and practice, to American universities, free speech in New Zealand, and safe guarding democracy... This book on the origin and development of liberalism suited our group well as a basis for lively discussion.
All in the group found this book 'hard work' but very worthwhile. The overall rating was a definite 5.
Fascinating book, full of interesting facts about Amsterdam and the Dutch; however many members felt that they became bogged down by the detail. Notwithstanding that, a great start to our BDS year!
We all loved it and have learnt a lot. Most said they couldn't put it down. A few quibbles about his writing style, but most were overwhelmingly positive. As often happens when we all like a book, there wasn't much discussion about its merits - more like surprise that the Dutch had achieved so much.
Our group found this book to be rather heavy going. While the facts were interesting and educational, the way it was written made it difficult to read. The pictures helped, but one's interest waned with no one finishing the book.
An excellent book provoking lively discussion. It answered all the many questions I've had after two visits to the city. It was easy to read even though jam packed with interesting facts. We were all educated by it and were impressed by the author's extensive research.
For some , it wasn't an easy book to get in to, but those who did really enjoyed it and learned heaps from the content contained. The author had clearly put in some heavy research to present 'quirky' facts about Amsterdam. This resulted in lively discussion and fun anecdotes from those who have worked in or travelled to the city.
Everyone enjoyed the way history was presented in this book. All thought it is a book they would not normally have read, but were pleased they had.