Amsterdam 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 S, 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

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 S

❰PDF / Epub❯ ☂ Amsterdam  Author Russell Shorto –
  • Hardcover
  • 368 pages
  • Amsterdam
  • Russell Shorto
  • English
  • 15 September 2018
  • 9780385534574

10 thoughts on “Amsterdam

  1. says:

    This is an entertaining read and a good warm up if preparing a visit Amsterdam Do not expect a great deal than that This book will also be liked 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, his research on the history of the place, as well as his opinions This gives variety to the account The very personal touch is given from the start as he adroitly begins by taking us along with him in his daily bicycle ride.But there is a certain tint of novelty in his descriptions that creates the impression that everything he knows about the city he learnt only while being there, and recently The main argument is in the title His understanding of Amsterdam is that it is the most liberal city, in the world, and he traces that liberalism through the city s rich past, and this liberalism is proven in the way the practice of religion was given always a greater freedom than enjoyed in other contemporary societies The liberalism excelled in particular in their mercantile foundations, but also in their political structures, social relationships, and of course, also in the license given to the pursuit of sex and alternative states of consciousness.I found Shorto deals better with the modern than with past times His treatment of history has the texture of recent readings By that I mean a considerable amount of reading done in a relatively short time and which has not really settled And even if his love of the place is very inspiring, he gives the impression of being an outsider to Amsterdam But his enthusiasm is certainly contagious when he deals with the twentieth century, in particular with WW2 and with the turmoil of the 1960s.One irritation for me was his overuse of the expression in the world , which is in the title as well When language is too inflated it loses value, and when in the world is found so often, it eventually projects a certain degree of provincialism But that may be the doing of the editor and of what we the public like to buy But overall this is a perfect starting point for any incursion into the city of the canals.And don t forget the tulips

  2. says:

    Ahhh, Amsterdam Apple cake, hashish, cheese, canals, bikes and seedy red light areas Or at least, that s largely what tourists see while they revel in the city s legendary liberalism.What they don t see is that Amsterdam s influence extends far beyond a few stoned backpackers According to Russel Shorto, Amsterdam is one of the parents of freedom as we know it, a city that helped birth not only the protestant reformation, but modern ideas of tolerance and acceptance of difference that are now embraced worldwide.After reading Ben Coates Why the Dutch are Different I was curious to read about my ancestral home and its most famous city Amsterdam A History of The World s Most Liberal City really hit the spot The history that Shorto reveals is scintillating This is the story of how a backwater village in a swampy dump became the greatest city in the world, at least for a while, a center of art and culture that produced Rembrandt, Vermeer and eventually Van Gogh If you ve spent time in the Netherlands you ll be familiar with its interesting mix of liberalism do what you like in your personal life, smoke drugs till you fall in a canal, etc etc and sometimes amusing conservatism don t put your rubbish in the wrong bin, wear white shoes if you are a young woman, blue suits if you are a man, and brace yourself for the bureaucracy , something that Shorto attributes to the Dutch history of both working together to protect their country from the sea, while at the same time encouraging individual agency, landholding and commerce.Shorto shows how this uniquely Dutch combination of communalism and individualism has produced a uniquely liberal society, something that was substantially helped by the Netherlands famously relaxed attitude towards low level illegal activity, an attitude that goes back centuries Nowhere is this attitude stark than in a comparison of how they treated early protestant heretics vs the rest of Europe Catholic Europe round them up en masse and torture them horribly If they repent behead the men and drown the women If they don t repent, burn them at the stake.The Dutch Ignore them and hope they ll go away If they don t go away, ignore them some .This attitude to some extent still prevails today Allied to Dutch pragmatism regarding trade, this relaxed attitude saw Amsterdam become incredibly polyglot, home to tens and tens of nationalities and languages, all co existing and working with each other.This multicultural tolerance has not been perfect Dutch society was stretched to breaking point during the Nazi occupation, where a far greater proportion of Jewish people were handed over to the Nazis than in some other nations with the cooperation of the authorities and much of the population was at best ambivalent about such evils The horror of the war led to much soul searching on the behalf of the Dutch, many of whom questioned how deeply held the vaunted Dutch liberalism and tolerance really was among the people of the Netherlands Post war, however, Amsterdam doubled down on its heritage of openness and liberalism The sixties hit the city hard, and to an extent, never went away, the progressiveness of that decade becoming part of Amsterdam s fabric, and the eventual liberalising of drug, prostitution and same sex marriage laws cementing the city s reputation for relaxed attitudes to vice and personal relations.Today questions around migration and integration have also stretched Dutch tolerance a bit, but the nation, and Amsterdam has remained stunningly liberal, combining broad personal freedoms with an effective and generous welfare state.This is a fascinating history, woven through with personal stories, and Shorto s touching interviews with a Dutch holocaust survivor If you ve never visited the Netherlands I urge you to do so, if only to see the famous Dutch liberalism up close, and experience one of the worlds interesting cultures Certainly after my last visit, and reading this book, it seems to me that the international symbol of freedom isn t the bald eagle, or the stars and stripes it s a wedge of spiced Gouda, enjoyed during the Amsterdam pride parade, with the fragrant aroma of marijuana in the air.Four big orange stars.

  3. says:

    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 city and trading center I ve been to Amsterdam twice, and I can tell you there is much than canals, Anne Frank, and prostitutes Though Anne Frank is important, and Shorto doesn t ignore her He doesn t disregard the drugs or the prostitutes either, but he doesn t let them overwhelm the city or the narrative In fact, he also shows the connections between all three and Amsterdam and the rest of the world And that is Liberalism Not in the sense of American democrats either, not disconnected from capitalism either Shorto starts and ends the book with two stories one about his day care provider who is trying to get a relative into the country, and another about Frieda Menco, a Holocaust survivor who knew Anne Frank These two women stand as examples of times when the famous Amsterdam Liberalism is, temporary it seems, punched down But it seems to come back fighting Menco represents this because of where she lives and the ties that the location has to her past The day care provider is the modern answer to this, living in an Amsterdam which is trying to adjust and find itself after the murder of Theo Van Gogh and immigration Shorto argues that in many ways the liberalism that the world associates with Amsterdam is in part a product of the unique Dutch landscape that the fight with the sea in many ways contributed to the Dutch view The view of us against the sea, as opposed to us against them, made the other a thing of nature as opposed to people and, therefore, something that is harder to kill and slaughter Further, the liberalism is re enforced by a view of capitalism toleration is beneficial to business and the people of Amsterdam need the business This sounds mercenary, and perhaps it is, but if Shorto is correct, and he makes an excellent argument, then it really does illustrate what the world can be at its best And it is the world because Amsterdam has exported its liberalism Shorto is able to link the city to the development of New York, beyond simply the first settlers and place names The roots of the liberalism are shown not only in the development of the city but in the arts that come out of the city While Shorto s focus is usually city wide, his section on Rembrandt in Amsterdam and how the Master s painting reflects the change in culture that goes along Additionally, in most histories of places, the rulers go hand and hand with the place It is hard, for instance, to talk about London without talking about the British monarchy in general But Amsterdam, while nominally part of a country that has a king, is a kingless city This lack of ruler gives the city even character, at least in terms of this book In terms of style, Shorto s book about his adopted city is not like Ackroyd s love poem in prose to London This is not a criticism Shorto s book is something different, less about a city then about the ideas that the city represents This is reflected in the chapters that while linear in time due also wonder or go on digressions that are beautiful and lovely for all the light connection to the topic at hand It s like wondering the little allies and streets of the city, meandering our way though the canals It is to Shorto s credit that while he deals with Anne Frank, whose spirit is strongly associated with the city, he does not present the Holocaust and the Dutch role in hit though rose colored glasses He does not hold up Miep as an example of all Dutch during the war years More importantly, he takes what some would call a failure to live up to the values of liberalism and shows how the Dutch emerged from the Holocaust willing and determined not to let liberalism fail again The rebuilding of the society after the war with the determination to live up to and create that society This leads to the squatting, the John Lennon bed in, the openness and acceptable of homosexuals that is not found everywhere or anywhere at the same time In many ways, Shorto s biography of Amsterdam and the idea that it represents is brilliant and matches the idea and city itself It offers a non varnished view of ideas and how they change, fail, and grow stronger much like the cities and people where they reside Further, it is though the liberalism of Amsterdam that Shorto also seems to express a hope for the human race.

  4. says:

    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 two Mr Shorto deals with this problem, as he does with many other problems, through the expedient of just ignoring it For example, there is no discussion, of the influence of Amsterdam s neighboring German States Is it s liberalism merely a local node for ideas just as ingrained in places such as Hamburg or L beck 2 Shorto seems to see something natural, special and organic about Amsterdam s freedom But the city could equally be seen as just a fortunate, remote northern survivor from what had once been a dense network of Low Country liberal trading cities, most of which were successfully crushed and destroyed by French or Spanish troops.3 Shorto occasionally contradicts his own arguments For example, Amsterdam s baseline religious tolerance is countered with his recounting the appalling scenes of Anabaptists having their chests cut open and hearts pulled out to be smeared, still beating, on their faces Catholic priests and nun stripped and killed and churches desecrated Jews not surviving the Nazi s in greater proportions than the rest of Occupied Europe.4 Some of Mr Shorto s reasoning does not stand up to close scrutiny Amsterdam was an oligarchy, we re told, a few pages before being reminded of the egalitarian nature of Dutch society Or, that Thomas Jefferson drew from John Locke, and Locke spent five years in Amsterdam, so Amsterdam deserves some credit for Declaration of Independence s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness clause.5 He describes actions that are truly amazing, implying they are unique to Amsterdam, when in fact they are actions in use elsewhere long before Amsterdam An example being the driving of piles into marshy land in order to build upon it This method was used in Venice for centuries before the expansion of Amsterdam.6 Major , first , greatest , best and what seemed at times an almost of each page occurrence of golden age or liberalism I began to suspect that superlatives were a way of repeating, the claims that weren t proven, as if quantity of argument could make up for quality.In short, it seemed that Mr Shorto s ideas were superimposed upon his material rather than to flow out of it as if he had his thesis, then found the facts, not always successfully, to support it, and disregarding anything that didn t fit.

  5. says:

    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 Church nor to an all powerful Monarchy This allowed for freer development of business entrepreneurs leading to a mercantile class of people who did not want to be controlled and hindered in their money making ventures All worked together to prevent their low lying land from being flooded The author argues persuasively that this individualist and collective effort in business and the control of the sea made for a liberal and tolerant society Protestants from France migrated to Holland to escape persecution Jews from Iberia also did the same This made for a society that was both diverse and tolerant This all fostered the growth of individualism, an essential component of liberalism Toleration was fostered by a Dutch word gedogen which means illegal, but look the other way This was developed as an art form in Amsterdam and exists to this day For example when Amsterdam was under the yoke of Spain they were told to Inquisition Protestants, but for the most part this was ignored Well sometimes it didn t always work out, with horrible results and then the Protestants would retaliate with similar results.There are wonderful passages on Rembrandt whose paintings were not of the aristocracy or of the ecclesiastical type but were portraits of the business classes Rembrandt could be a rather obstinate fellow and quarrelled frequently with his patrons with the result that requests for his services diminished over time and he was never as wealthy as some of his lesser known contemporaries And there is Spinoza who was excommunicated from the Jewish community and faith Spinoza is considered by many in the philosophical world to be the originator of secularism Spinoza considered all religions to be man made For this he was ostracized and never joined any other faith very unusual for that era, the 1650 s Spinoza was allowed to live his life but, to illustrate the darker side of the era, Dewitt, the leading Dutch republican, was torn apart by a mob in 1672 DeWitt and the republicans were replaced by the Dutch Monarchy.So to some extent liberalism subsided after this, however it did leave its imprint The Dutch Monarchy was never as powerful as in France Amsterdam became a leading publisher and many forbidden books by Spinoza, Descartes that were banned elsewhere, were available It continued to tolerate different brands of Christianity and Judaism Liberalism like any ideology spread to France Descartes, Voltaire and England John Locke One has only to think of the impact of the American Revolution and the French Revolution In the modern era, Eduard Douwes Dekker in 1860 wrote a book highly critical of Dutch colonialism Aletta Jacobs became the first female doctor in Holland and was a strong advocate and educator in the 1870 s for the reproductive rights of women, particularly in the use of contaceptives The horrible Nazi occupation is discussed Some have argued that this is one reason that Amsterdam went somewhat over the top in the 1960 s as an attempt to counter balance the evil of occupation and collaboration.Amsterdam was one of the first cities to bring Gay Rights into the open during the 1960 s Due to the openness and education in the use of birth control Holland has one of the lowest teenage pregnancy rates in the world, it also has a low rate of abortion in other words if you really want to lower the abortion rate start making birth control accessible There are bicycle riders in Amsterdam per capita than any other European city.What would we do without wonderful Amsterdam

  6. says:

    Uncorrected proof via netgalley.comDedication 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 South.My memories of Holland are of tulips and windmills, land reclamation, the Laughing Cavalier and all things Orange.My impressions of Amsterdam, where I haven t been, are of canals and bikes, diamonds and sex, drugs and Van der ValkLoved this, admired the easy writing A must for any reference library.

  7. says:

    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 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 understanding of Hollanders as well I ended up learning so much from this book Amsterdam is, by most accounts, the most liberal place on earth It is often laughably liberal or shake your head in disbelief liberal In saying this I am using the definition of liberal as synonymous with free, open, and permissive But, the word has another, deeper and higher meaning, which is in fact related to the other and he goes on to write A difficulty that the word liberalism suffers today is that is has seemingly opposite meanings in the United States and in Europe For these two quotes alone I believe this would be advantageous book for Americans to read, especially in this election year Words and definitions are being bandied about but I think there is a different understanding of these words depending on which side of the pond you are from.Beginning around 1000AD the people of this delta area began a battle to control the water The water, the perils, the bravery, the absurdity of the geographic position, and the development of complex communal organizations to cope with the situation explains much of Amsterdam s history and provides as well a backdrop to the development of liberalism It s important to know that at this time there was no one leader or King These efforts were organized by groups of towns people all over this small region It would not be until Willem of Orange that the country would unite under one leader.And, this sets up the idea for the whole book that the Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, was uniquely placed to embrace individual thought that works together for the betterment of the group A place where Capitalism and Social Welfare programs successfully co exist America is the land of the free says one Dutch friend But I think we are freer Freerbecause you the Dutch are not alone That is the story that Amsterdam tells Working together, we win land from the sea Individually, we own it individually, we prosper, so that collectively we do Together, we maintain a society of individuals Of course it is not without its excesses, abuses, and problems The author delves deeply into both old, historic tragedies as well as new problems facing The Netherlands, along with most of Europe Overall, this was not only an enlightening read, it was a fascinating one 5 5 stars

  8. says:

    An extremely interesting book for anyone interested in European history, because it covers much 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 with a poignant treatment of the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of Holland But this is than a history book There is a thread that runs through it that is basically a discussion of the difference between liberalism and conservatism, and among the different types of each The book is easy to read despite its heavy cast of characters and the long period it covers, and I am sure that I learned than I would have if I d read a history textbook The author also inserts personal anecdotes of his life in Amsterdam and about people he has come to know who also live there, making the book interesting on yet another level.The author has also written a book about the Dutch origins of New York City The Island at the Center of the World The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America which I intend to read and if it s anything like this one, I am in for a treat indeed.

  9. says:

    Amsterdam padeci problemas que se convirtieron en soluciones, paso de sufrir de inundaciones a crear sistema de canales que no solo les soluciona el inconveniente sino que los convierten algunos en canales para el paso de comercio La locura encaja con esa cultura conservadora de dos maneras la ciudad, por un lado, se enorgullece de su tradici n tolerancia y, por otro lado, la l gica de que es mejor legalizar y reglamentar las actividades que van a realizarse de todos modos La palabra Liberal video lat n LIBER, que significa libre, una ra z presente tambi n en vocabulario como libertario y libertino Se trata de una de esas palabras que, a lo largo de la historia, ha Sio tiroteadas sin piedad en distintas direcciones El liberalismo es un cesto difuso que abarca una serie de ideas tambi n difusas en torno a la justicia, la tica, la propiedad privada, etc tera Las personas est n atrapadas en la historia, y la historia est atrapada en las personas La idea del Multi culturalismo en tanto convicci n de que toda sociedad debe hacer lugar a sus minor as culturales y apoyarlas activamente Lo que hoy conocemos como holanda no es mas que un vasto delta filial en el que desembocan el RIN, el Mosa o Maas, y el Escalda La tolerancia no implica celebrar la diversidad Mas bien, tiene que ver con soportarla y es un concepto nacido de la necesidad y el pragmatismo.Me gusto este libro, desde mi inexperiencia historia se me facilito leerlo ya que posee un introducci n que te deja con ganas de mas para este tema interesante.

  10. says:

    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 written by an American over a century ago A Dutch friend reminds the author that the story is purely American , that in the Netherlands, dike building and dike repair are communal enterprises, were the Dutch to construct such a fairy tale, the hero would be town water board.

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