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Books about Amsterdam

We will be traveling to Amsterdam in May, and would love to read some historical novels or actual history about Amsterdam. Any suggestions? Thanks to all who will respond!

Posted by
25178 posts

Diary of Anne Frank

The Hiding Place (Corrie ten Boom)

Posted by
2151 posts

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton immediately comes to mind, and if you go to the Rijksmuseum you can see the actual doll's house cabinet that belonged to Petronella Oortman that inspired the novel. Also Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach, and Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I enjoyed The Miniaturist the most of these.

Posted by
2594 posts

In addition to books already mentioned, consider Anne Frank Remembered, by Miep Gies. This will give you insight from the people who hid the Frank family.

@Christa, thanks for your recommendations. I can now add them to my list!!

Posted by
4576 posts

Shorto's book is good though a little over-enthusiastic about all the liberalism IMHO. He lives there. He also wrote a book (better I think) about the New Amsterdam colony and how its Dutch roots help explain New York's uniqueness among US cities.

The most interesting thing I remember from Shorto's Amsterdam book is his explanation about how feudalism didn't take hold because the land was literally created by people driving thousands of piles into the water. No feudal overlords, no vassals, no serfs, instead a public order built on commerce, hence a republic. (That's my short version, Shorto's long version is better).

Posted by
1512 posts

Have the idea that the feudal overlords were not so much interested in fighting for wetlands and land prone to flooding. Especially the coastal part of the Netherlands, remained for that reason for a major part under the feudal radar and had only a mild version of feudalism to experience and more time for the fight against the see. For that you have to work together as equal partners, there is no other option, little room for quarrels and I think that has defined very much our nations character.
I didn’t read Shorto’s book but guess it is this he talks about.

Posted by
799 posts

I loved Shorto’s book on Amsterdam, as well as his earlier book on the Dutch origins of New York - they would be my top two recommendations. I found Geert Mak’s history of Amsterdam interesting but somewhat depressing: Shorto gives a much more optimistic view.

In addition to all the other recommendations above, I enjoyed Vincent and Theo, by Deborah Heiligman. I think it’s aimed at a middle years or YA audience, but don’t let that stop you. And for swashbuckling 19th century history and romance, try The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas.

Happy reading and have a great trip!

Posted by
6377 posts

Another vote for Russell Shorto’s “Amsterdam.”
I also highly recommend his “The Island at the Center of the World”, NYC founded by the Dutch

Posted by
10 posts

There is also a 3 part series on Masterpiece Theater (PBS) of The Miniaturist. I just watched it before I decided to go to the Netherlands and plan to watch again, now that I'm more familiar with towns, etc after my travel research. Thanks to the person who said the dollhouse is in the museum. I'll look for that!