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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. Schama explores the mysterious contradictions of the Dutch nation that invented itself from the ground up, attained an unprecedented level of. Dive deep into Simon Schama’s The Embarrassment of Riches with extended analysis, commentary, and discussion.

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All too well-regulated by the severely dressed burghers in their black silk and high white collars? Many in the Netherlands were quick to draw the parallel between the relative luxury of the 17th century that Schama admired, to the Dutch welfare state at the close of the 20th century.

A Delicious Satisfaction with the Material World

Feb 24, gaudeo rated it liked it. I would describe it as a mountain climb. And though this book doesn’t specifically highlight any city Amsterdam being the most famous and exemplifying the forward-thinking ideals of Dutch societyit provides an excellent in-depth look at a time when the Dutch became the ‘Dutch’, carving out their identity while defending themselves against the Spanish, French and English.

Schama is very entertaining a second time round. The Dutch comes across to be more admired but not awed, and another trip to richex is a temptation nearly irresistible to see if we can see more clearly of the Dutch. Looking for More Great Reads?

Peter Burke reviews ‘The Embarrassment of Riches’ by Simon Schama · LRB 12 November

Yet, in the midst of plenty, the Dutch were ill at ease. In more expansive times it could relax and swell, allowing for internal differentiation and the absorption of a whole gamut of beliefs, faiths and even tongues.


The latter is a controversial reassessment of the artist which attempts to reinstate the notion of Embarrass,ent the genius, aiming to invoke the atmosphere as well as the historical context.

There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Read more Read less. Inspired by Your Browsing History. In addition to the usual recounting of wars and international rivalries, the reader is acquainted what it was like to live there. Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go. I like it very much, but then I like everything written by Simon Shama.

I saw a child playing cards. Comparing with other 17th century paintings originated in Italy, Spain or English, even the most innocent of viewers can detect something particularly Dutch — the relish of life, presented with less formulaic structure, and often of whimsical delight. I myself found myself slugging towards the summit in certain chapters simply to get further along into the sections that held embararssment of my interest.

I was particularly grabbed by Schama’s enthusiasm for Jan Steen. Some thought it too simple, some were insulted and some said it was spot on. De Tocqueville felt that tit was liberal democracy and embarrasskent mobility that created the American personality. One way was to create rituals around the rmbarrassment, to regulate the most ostentatious displays of food and drink, cage them in to sets of rules and regulations, to parade material opulence in civic displays of pomp.

He has gone down on record as a historian who believes that his discipline should be more than a playground for arcane arguments amongst academics, who believes that it is of wider import, and therefore needs to be accessible.

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. Best for academics and anyone who’s got a lot of extra time to learn why the Dutch are who embarraswment are expats like myself, perhaps? Schama includes one of the best discussions I have read of the roots and significance of the Tulip mania of the s.


Schama attempts to apologize for such heresy noting that Marx’s theory of the bourgeoisie was based on conditions that existed in the nineteenth century and hence did not properly embarrassmenf to the seventeenth century.

So far I especially like the chapter on the Dutch tendency to imagine penal punishment. Explore the Home Gift Guide. Mar 10, Jack Coleman rated it it was amazing.

Sometimes, I think his focus on art goes too far. The book is so long and thorough that you’ll still get your money’s worth.

Share your thoughts with other customers. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. The terrifying force of God was reminded by their geography, the flood, and the hostile countries around them. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. He has set himself the task of capturing the notions adopted and followed by a large group of people in a particular time.

But then I’ve now lived in Holland a decade longer and perhaps cultural matters are more ingrained in me these days, perhaps I am more Dutchized and was taken by surprise by the gossipy side of history this time.

Books by Simon Schama. Simon Schama – – no matter what his subject – – is worth every second spent with him.