The book in question, Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, is being hailed by multiple reviewers as the most interesting literary take on Amsterdam to have come out of the country in years.
Having been an adopted citizen of Holland’s capital for many years, Shorto is well equipped to give an authentic and honest view of the city whilst providing a detailed and intriguing history of the widely-written metropolis. Its focus on the liberalism of Amsterdam and the contemporary views of the city go beyond just the popularised and shocking reputation Amsterdam seems to have acquired and celebrates what else has transpired in an accepting community that is far more demure than is often reported.
The book works as a guide to the city with all the usual mentions of tulips and canals which would be of as much interest to those taking European river cruises in Amsterdam as it would to those who are interested in its rich history from afar. As Amsterdam is currently celebrating the 400 year anniversary of its canal ring, now seems an opportune time to release such a work that delves into the varied and illustrious history of Amsterdam’s culture.
Shorto uses his theme of liberalism to examine both contemporary and historical views of the city through its past, allowing readers to learn about everything from how Rembrandt used to cycle along the city’s river banks to how the Netherlands’ rivers came to be the source of the city’s liberal reputation. According to Shorto, it is Amsterdam’s waterways to which the capital ultimately owes its trade, art and unique character.
Making for an inspired read, Shorto’s book is set to make people think twice about Amsterdam; going back as far as the Golden Age, the work looks at how the city's many historical events have gone on to impact on the rest of the world.
Image Credit: Nationaal Historisch Museum (flickr.com)