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

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

Russell Shorto

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0307743756

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this effortlessly erudite account, Russell Shorto traces the evolution of one of the world's greatest cities. From the building of its first canals in the 1300s, through the brutal struggle for Dutch independence and its golden age as the capital of a vast empire, to its complex present in which its cherished ideals of liberalism are under siege, Shorto provides an ever-surprising, intellectually entertaining story of Amsterdam. He also weaves in his own experiences of his adopted home. In the end, Amsterdam is an endlessly captivating portrait of a city that has profoundly influenced the modern world.

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Anne Frank, 49. CHAPTER 9: “WE INFORM YOU OF THE ACTION OF A POWERFUL GERMAN FORCE” 1 “Nobody will question”: Maass, Netherlands at War, 19. 2 Even after numerous: Mak, Kleine geschiedenis, 249. 3 “We inform you of the”: Maass, Netherlands at War, 31. 4 The story goes that the Luftwaffe: Stigter, Bezette stad, passim. The bullet story comes from a tour of the Stadsarchief. 5 Mass executions of Jews: Operation Tannenberg began in August 1939. 6 “an indispensable aid”: “Een onmisbaar

striking. The father had been, in temperament, a warrior whose aggression was shot through with touches of refinement and diplomatic smarts. He had a command of most European languages and, though not native to Spain, won over his Spanish subjects by not only entering the bullring but acquitting himself well. Throughout his life he loved both music and fighting, a combination that was excellently illustrated when he was twenty-two and a friend playfully taunted him that music was for girly men.

would likely have found temporary residence in the Jordaan, the area of the new part of the city that sat astride the canal belt, which mostly housed the poor and working classes. Life was rougher and shaggier here, the houses were smaller and more cheaply constructed, and there was more unpleasantness, since zoning laws prohibited smelly industries like tanneries from setting up in the main part of the city (two windmills nearby were known as the Big Stink Mill and the Little Stink Mill). We

now wanted to become his friend) visited some time later and gave a recollection of the dark day. “He told me that on the day of the murder of the De Witts he felt impelled to go out in the evening and exhibit in the neighborhood of the crime a poster with the words ‘Lowest Barbarians!’ But his landlord had locked the door to prevent his going out and incurring the risk of being torn to pieces.” Four years later, in 1677, Baruch Spinoza died at the age of forty-four, apparently from lung

thanks to what some called a “Protestant wind” and landed on the Devon coast without incident. The vast army—nearly twenty thousand soldiers and another twenty thousand support crew—then began to move on London. People lined the roads to watch and greet; there was little opposition. In fact, the invaders were cheered in places. People cried, “God bless you!” Peasants offered apples. Willem sent troops into London ahead of his main army. They found no opposition and secured the city, so that

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