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

Russell Shorto. Doubleday, $28.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-53457-4
Shorto conjures the anything-goes spirit of contemporary Amsterdam, with its pot-smoking and red-light districts, from the city’s fascinating past as a major port city. Amsterdam, to Shorto, was not only the first city in Europe to develop the cultural and political foundations of what we now call liberalism—“a society focused on the concerns and comforts of individuals,... run by individuals acting together,” and tolerant of “religion, ethnicity, or other differences”—but also an exporter of these beliefs to the rest of Europe and the New World. Shorto composes biographical sketches of these originators (Rembrandt, Spinoza) and exporters (John Locke, the Dutch East India Company) as he guides readers on a narrative tour of Amsterdam’s intellectual history, its rise from a sleepy site of religious pilgrimage to the center of a trading empire into the present. Shorto’s examination of Dutch tolerance also focuses on its failures, including an examination of collaboration with Nazi occupiers during WWII, and its current struggle to integrate its “immigrant underclass” into a more egalitarian multicultural life. Shorto’s brilliant follow-up to his previous book on Dutch Manhattan (The Island at the Center of the World) is an expertly told history of a city of new, shocking freedoms and the tough-minded people that developed them. Agent: Anne Edelstein, Anne Edelstein Literary Agency LLC. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/12/2013
Release date: 10/22/2013
Show other formats
Compact Disc - 978-0-8041-4932-7
Open Ebook - 264 pages - 978-0-385-53458-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-95440-3
Paperback - 357 pages - 978-0-307-74375-6
Hardcover - 357 pages - 978-1-4087-0347-2
Hardcover - 357 pages - 978-1-4087-0348-9
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-7481-2863-1
Hardcover - 405 pages - 978-0-349-00002-2
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.