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Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto

Recommended by Lisa in Adult Services: Amsterdam

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 … and the democratic philosophy that this enduring struggle fostered.

She says: 

A brilliant book for anyone interested in the long and varied history of the city of Amsterdam, or the history of the modern world in general. Shorto’s book outlines the importance of the city and its sprawling influence: what makes the Dutch the people they are, and the impact their contributions have made far-ranging topics is astonishing. Shorto connects all the dots, outlining relationships between many people you’ve heard of and a few you haven’t. It has it all, from politics to the East India Company, to Rembrandt and beyond. This is history at its best, so riveting it almost reads like a novel.