A brief life of the city
A delightful journey through time and through the streets of one of the greatest cultural capitals in Europe.
Cosmopolitan, stylish, decadent, Amsterdam is a city of dreams and nightmares, of grand civic architecture but also a city of civil wars, uprisings and bloody religious purges. In his book, a journey through the turbulent history of one of Europe's cultural capitals, Geert Mak shows his eye for the unexpected and the bizarre. A medieval lady's shoe unearthed during building work; a Rembrandt sketch of a hanged girl; graffiti on the side of a grand house, foretelling the city's doom, said to have been applied by a deranged burgomaster in his own blood. Using diaries and eyewitness accounts, Mak paints a vivid portrait of the city through the centuries: its bustling harbour, its grand houses, its slums, its fabled wealth, the catastrophic winters, bloody insurrections, and the evolution of the mentality that shaped it. He has produced an original and readable social history and an engaging alternative travel guide.
“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”
“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”