The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age

The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age

by Simon Schama
     
 

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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

Overview

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.


"History on the grand scale...An ambitious portrait of one of the most remarkable episodes in modern history."—New York Times


"Wonderfully inclusive; with wit and intense curiosity he teases out meaning from every aspect of Dutch seventeenth-century life."—Robert Hughes

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PI Holland Taylor is a former cop with an African American associate who covers his back, a high-level friend on the police force and a very smart lady who tries to keep him on the straight path. He also practices martial arts, brews exotic coffee and favors a special brand of local beer. But Housewrightwho won an Edgar for best first novel with Taylor's debut in Penance (1996)does more than merely echo Robert B. Parker's Spenser in this second episode: he tells a good story in a setting he makes his own. Taylor works out of Minnesota's Twin Cities, far from Boston; the black associate is Freddie (Sidney Poitier Fredricks), a venal and definitely downscale PI who wouldn't last two minutes up against Parker's Hawk. The cop friend keeps tossing Taylor into jail. The lady is Cynthia Grey, a lawyer who used to be a stripper. Taylor's martial arts practices may well compensate for his slight build. Housewright's plot is as open-faced as his genial homage. Asked by his father to help an 85-year-old neighbor recover the life savings stolen from her by Levering Field, an oily investment counselor, Taylor uses a cross-dressing computer genius to harass the swindler. But just as Field is ready to cave in, he's found deadand somebody with very good aim is also shooting at Taylor. Housewright's wit, while making the most of the bow to Parker, should earn him an acclaim all his own. (Nov.)
Library Journal
When and how did the Dutch become Dutch? At the start of the 16th century, they possessed neither common political heritage, religion, nor tongue. ``The most extraordinary invention of this country . . . was its own culture,'' says Schama. He catalogs the elements of the Dutchman's identity. His gluttony, obsession with cleanliness, pursuit of wealth, love of family and children, and enshrinement of the home all point to dichotomies and ambivalences that shaped Dutch character. The Dutch sought a way to safeguard themselves from a fall from grace while permitting them to enjoy the bounteous benefits of the material world. The Scriptures set the framework for this discourse, humanist teachings shaped their answers. A satisfying addition to the growing literature on sensibilities in the early modern era. Recommended. David Keymer, Dean of Students, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Utica
Kirkus Reviews
When you're in business to bilk sweet old widows out of their life savings, you deserve whatever happens to you. So when St. Paul shamus Holland Taylor's parents ask him to go after the $287,000 that trusting Irene Gustafson gave to investments counselor Levering Field, and when Field and his smiling attorney Monica Adler tell Taylor that Mrs. Gustafson will be dead long before a court ever orders him to pay her a penny—and besides, he's prudently placed all his assets in his teenaged daughter's name—he figures he's well within his rights in ruining Field's life. And that's what he and his cross-dressing computer-expert friend Steve (a.k.a. Sara) VanderTop set out to do. Some of their harassments are ingenious, others merely satisfyingly petty, but soon they've got Field crying uncle. Sadly, that's practically the last thing he does cry before Taylor, followed closely by the cops, stumbles over his dead body. Homicide chief Lt. Anne Scalasi turns Taylor loose when he can prove an alibi, but his troubles are just beginning. For one thing, somebody's shooting at him, too—and with the same .32 that killed Field; for another, he's getting a double dose of all the dirty tricks, from unwanted pizza deliveries to threatening phone calls, that he pulled on Field. With Field dead, who could be looking for revenge? And who could possibly want both Field and Taylor dead?

Housewright follows up his Edgar-winning debut (Penance, 1995) with a greased-lightning tale of scam and counterscam that's still bubbling merrily when the fat lady sings.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394510750
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/1987
Pages:
698
Product dimensions:
7.05(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.61(d)

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