Amsterdam: A brief life of the city: The Brief Life of a City

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9781860465987: Amsterdam: A brief life of the city: The Brief Life of a City
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Using diaries and eyewitness accounts the author of this text presents a portrait of Amsterdam through the ages: its bustling harbour, its grand houses, it slums, it wealth, its winters, insurrections, and the evolution of the mentality that shaped it.

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Review:

From its very earliest days when it was no more than a cluster of small farms among the reed banks of the River Amstel, to the present, easygoing, cosmopolitan city with its celebrated red-light district and ganja-filled coffee-bars, Amsterdam has always been a fascinating, individualistic city. Geert Mak, one of Holland's leading journalists, here takes the reader on a riveting topographical journey in a book that is both social history and travel guide. Mak has an all-seeing eye and the best kind of journalistic style; he is always interested in the human angle of things, the smaller truths. He misses nothing; every detail attracts his attention and his imagination, from a medieval shoe rescued from the estuarial mud to the graffiti on the side of a grand house, said to have been applied by a deranged merchant in his own blood, prophesying the city's doom. And what a great cast of characters there is: Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt (who discovered the trick of bidding for his own paintings at auction, so driving up the price), Spinoza, and the tragic Anne Frank, as well as more recent counter-cultural figures such as Johnny the Selfkicker and Kees Hoekert, the "marijuana expert", who once threw a live chicken at Queen Juliana's State coach. --Christopher Hart

Review:

"Lovers of Amsterdam will revel in the exhaustive reconstruction of everyday life in the medieval city" (Independent on Sunday)

"A strong sense of irony and a lively prose style make Geert Mak's Amsterdam one of the most unusual and engaging 'city books' I have read this year" (Sunday Times)

"Mak's brief is... to bring Amsterdam into the modern age. This he does with wit and style. But his real achievement... is to make accessible unfussily - and unsentimentally - one of Europe's most astonishing urban success stories" (James Woodall Financial Times)

"This excellent book is more than essential" (Irvine Welsh)

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9781860467899: Amsterdam: A brief life of the city

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ISBN 10:  186046789X ISBN 13:  9781860467899
Publisher: Vintage, 2001
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