This book is a fascinating history of Amsterdam and its origins as well as its impact on the world.
The book was very well structured - there was a fluid and ordered chronological progression from its inception to current day, but it was built on specific and more concise anecdotal clips.
- The formation of Amsterdam, and its origins as a religious pilgrimage site
- Its role in the India Trading Companies
- The first ever stock market
- Its role as the first colonizers of New York
- Its prominent artists such as Rembrandt & Van Gogh
- Its involvement in World War II - Anne Frank's place of birth
- And of course, first place to legalize gay marriage, prostitution, marijuana etc.
Overall it did a very good job of highlighting Amsterdam's pioneering of progressive ideas including religious/cultural/racial tolerance, separation of church and state, liberalism (as opposed to a monarchy), and its open minded environment that fostered the development of these concepts.
I am about 2 / 3 of the way through the book right now, and have enjoyed every minute of it. It delivers on what I would have expected based on the description and the title.
The book's content is well thought out and supported with evidence, and at the same time it is presented in a pleasant narrative fashion with a series of real-life examples to illustrate his theories.
The main message I have gotten from the book is NOT that you should throw positive thinking out the window. Rather he investigates possible explanations to the fact that although America may have the most self-help/power-of-positive-thinking books per capita, that does not necessarily result as us being the happiest country.
Primarily it provides alternative philosophies to consider that I interpreted as ways of stopping to enjoy happiness in the moment, rather than always chasing happiness in a perpetual future moment.
If you are in an open-minded mood and considering it as a refreshing alternative perspective to mix in with other books you have read about happiness philosophies, I would recommend it.
If you are in a state of mind in which all of the power of positive thinking models have been working flawlessly for you, and have no reason insert any doubts in your mind about it, then maybe it's not for you.
The reader was very good with all of the voices of the characters
The book goes by quickly. I was done with it in about a week. Very insightful, but entertaining to listen to at the same time. The messages are conveyed well with little stories along the way using the characters from the Pooh books. I would absolutely reccomend it.
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