Saturday, April 09, 2005

Book: Amsterdam - A Brief History of the City by Geert Mak

This book tells the story of the greatest city in the world from swampy bank to the top British Stag (Bachelor) Party destination.

It tells of a city of tolerence, even when all over europe, various religious groups were being ousted, toasted or forced to recant their crazy beliefs.

The story is often not told linearly, as certain [schemes] are followed from start to finished and then we jump back many years to follow the seeds and start of the next one. Occasionally years speed past in a matter of paragraphs, but the book is best when specific events or eras are deligtfully recreated. In particular the sad decline of Rembrandt paralleled with the life of the subject of one of his more unconventional pictures - the suspended body of an executed girl.

The book really paints some very evocative pictures of times long since sunk beneath the mud and bicycles that line the bottoms of the canals. I recommened it to anyone who lives here, lived here or wants to live here. If you're really keen, you can buy the Dutch-language original.

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