The Embarrassment of Riches

The Embarrassment of Riches

An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age

Paperback - 1997
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Schama explores the mysterious contradictions of the Dutch nation that invented itself from the ground up, attained an unprecedented level of affluence, and lived in constant dread of being corrupted by happiness. Drawing on a vast array of period documents and sumptuously reproduced art, Schama re-creates in precise detail a nation's mental state. He tells of bloody uprisings and beached whales, of the cult of hygiene and the plague of tobacco, of thrifty housewives and profligate tulip-speculators. He tells us how the Dutch celebrated themselves and how they were slandered by their enemies. -- Publisher description.
Published: New York : Vintage Books, 1997, c1987.
Edition: 1st Vintage Books ed.
ISBN: 9780679781240
Branch Call Number: 949.204 SCH
Characteristics: xiii, 698 p. :,ill., map ;,24 cm.


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Aug 06, 2014

This splendid account of Dutch history and culture in its Golden age uses art and architecture to illustrate Schama's points. At the beginning of the 17th c., Holland was a conglomeration of feuding states, which came together only when at risk of being overrun by larger, richer military states. Pulling itself together, Holland became an enormously wealthy world empire, one could argue the first since the Romans. The subtitle sums it all up--their wealth, and their religious fervor, led to a constant fear of being corrupted by their wealth. Because the organization of the book is by topic, not chronology, and chapters are very long, things get repetitive in places. But it helped enormously in understanding why a small group of Dutch left for New Netherland, and why they prospered there, among other topics of interest to me.


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