In amsterdam a history of the worlds most liberal city russel shorto briefly and lovingly outlines the story of amsterdam while arguing that the reason that liberalism developed so early there is because of its unique history. Amsterdam a history of the worlds most liberal city by russell shorto review an obvious problem with city history is that cities themselves are so rarely independent actors and often . Although it covers the citys history in at least cursory fashion from its foundation in 1200 to the present it is far from comprehensive there are large gaps especially during the citys decline in the 18th and 19th centuries shorto also has a thesis to prove amsterdam is the most liberal city in the world. But the deeper history of amsterdam what makes it one of the most fascinating places on earth is bound up in its unique geography the constant battle of its citizens to keep the sea at bay and the democratic philosophy that this enduring struggle fostered amsterdam is the font of liberalism in both its senses. Shorto conjures the anything goes spirit of contemporary amsterdam with its pot smoking and red light districts from the citys fascinating past as a major port city amsterdam to shorto was
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