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Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age 1st Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226301259
ISBN-10: 0226301257
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Editorial Reviews


Tulipmania is in every way a model of historical scholarship, an exemplary piece of historical craftsmanship. Every page is rife with rich human detail, and Goldgar’s lively and elegant style carries the reader, enthusiasm and curiosity undimmed, to the stimulating conclusion. Above all, this is revisionist history of the best kind.”

(Anthony Grafton, Princeton University)

"This is wonderful book, beautifully written and sustained by archival scholarship of the highest order. Its devastating and original demolition of the myth of Tulip mania, the fineness of historical judgment and the painstaking reconstructions so effortlessly conveyed on the page make it a pleasure to read."

(John Brewer, author of A Sentimental Murder: Love and Madness in the Eighteenth Century)

“Anne Goldgar’s scholarly sleuthing gives a whole new look to the 1630s tulipmania in the Netherlands.The bulb buyers and sellers were good middle-class merchants, not so far removed from knowledgeable connoisseurs and art-lovers. The crash in prices undermined not the economy, but people's confidence in honor and good judgment. Delightfully written, Tulipmania turns the exaggerations of a media event into an exploration of early modern values and anxieties.”

(Natalie Zemon Davis)

"A standard reference for all historians whenever they deal with this episode in Dutch financial history."
(Larry Neal EH.Net)

"What Anne Goldgar does in her provocative and lively new book is convincingly cast all of these existing narratives into questions. Drawing on extensive research in a wide range of archives . . . she shows that the tulip boom, far from representing a case of mass irrationality, was actually the product of intellectual, familial, and commercial networks among a relatively small and prosperous subset of Dutch burghers. . . . [The book] serves not only to rewrite a fascinating historical event, but to shed considerable light on the history or early modern commerce and culture more generally."
(Alix Cooper Renaissance Quarterly)

"A brilliant young spoilsport of a historian . . . decided to examine the evidence rather than buy the legend. . . . This book is a gem. Elegantly and lucidly written, it debunks the myth of tulipmania once and for all."
(Richard Mawrey Historic Gardens Review)

"In my view it is a wonderful and delightfully written book offering a totally new slant on the tulipmania in the Netherlands in the 1630s, when the bottom dropped out of the tulip bulb market in just a few days’ time."

(M.M.G. Fase De Economist 2008-02-12)

"A meticulously researched study of the phenomenon that challenges all of the previously held ideas about the extent of this bubble. There can be no doubt that this well-written and engaging book will become the standard reference on the topic for years to come."
(Donald J. Harreld H-Net Reviews)

"Goldgar's book establishes a new benchmark--the first since 1637--for interpretations of the tulip mania. It largely fulfills its ambitious interdisciplinary agenda, bringing to life the world of the seventeenth-century floristes."
(Jan de Vries American Historical Review)

"As Anne Goldgar gently informs us in the beginning of her absorbing book, most of what we 'know' about tulip mania is pure fiction."
(Ingrid D. Rowland New Republic)

2009 Leo Gershoy Prize from the American Historical Association
(American Historical Association Leo Gershoy Prize)

"Goldgar persuasively demolishes most of the myths and exaggerations surrounding this affair. . . . [She] treats it as a microhistorical lens through which we can learn much about the society and culture of the young Dutch Republic. . . . Cultural history at its best."
(Christine Kooi Sixteenth Century Journal)

"Goldgar's research can hardly be bettered. . . . [The] book is the most authioritative study on the subject and it will be the statutory starting point for fresh research."
(Karel Davids The Historian)

"Goldgar's examination of the role of value and the new ways social status, trust, and expertise interacted in judgments concerning value in a mercantile culture should have important repercussions for the history of science, art, economic thought, social history, and studies of the emerging public sphere."
(Vera Keller History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences)

"Goldgar's book is much more than just a deconstruction of popular myth in history; it is a magnificent reconstruction of the mentality of the upper middle class in the Dutch Republic. . . . A fascinating and indeed convincing reconstruction of the tulip craze. It is well-researched, beautifully written and splendidly produced."
(Klaas van Berkel European History Quarterly)

About the Author

Anne Goldgar is reader in early modern history at King’s College, London. She is the author of Impolite Learning: Conduct and Community in the Republic of Letters, 1680–1750.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 425 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226301257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226301259
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By William N. Ostrove on March 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After reading Tulipmania, I feel that the book could have been better than it was. Goldgar claims that she used firsthand sources that no one else has used to study the topic of Tulipmania before, allowing her to draw conclusions that no one has previously done. Essentially, Goldgar questions the traditional interpretation throughout history of Tulipmania, particularly the effect that the crisis actually had on Dutch society.

Even though these new sources shed new light on the topic, I felt that the book could have been delivered in a much better way. Goldgar quickly becomes bogged down with the minutia of the tulip trade. She did talk about overall trends; however, I think the book would have been much more interesting if she didn't spend as much time writing about individual transactions or individual meetings between buyers and sellers. These are necessary to establish the validity of the argument, but I think that the book would be more enjoyable with a few less of these examples.

The book also could have been improved with some overall statistics about Dutch society at the time. For example, (without giving too much away) claims about the economic conditions in the Netherlands during the early 17th century could have been backed up with more than just assertions from the author. In addition, the book does not spend a lot of time on some key issues, particularly, why the prices suddenly collapsed. This may have been out of the scope of the book, and the author does state that the issue is extremely complex and has no easy answer. But I think it would have added to the book to spend a bit more time discussing a few of the possible reasons.

This is not to say that the book had no positives.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S. N. Kras on January 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Is Tulipmania a good book, I was left wondering after having finished it. I guess to ask this question is to answer it. Still, by researching the tulip trade in the Dutch Golden Age, Anne Goldgar hit on archival gold. A massive amount of previously ill researched primary source material is combined with an impressive body of secundary literature. She combines insights from both historians and art historians. And with this wealth of material, Goldgar tells a concise and insightful story. As a nice topping, on every other page or so the book displays plates an illustrations from the period.

But very often, one is left slightly baffled by Goldgar's train of thought. One is more or less ready to follow Goldgar when she argues that well-to-do Dutchmen liked to have collections tulips and shells because both could be linked to the (apparently) highly-esteemed marble. Of course, there is no way of knowing whether this was true, but the connection is interesting. When from there on, she starts a discussion on the « soul-like » qualities of pets and tulips in paintings opposed to paintings of cars and shells, she is clearly off the mark.

Irritatingly, in books like these, Michel Foucault is never far away. When two neigbours in a neighbourhood of merchants have an informal chat about the price of tulips at their doorstep, in Goldgar's words they strenghten hierarchies of knowledge within constrained physical, cultural and commercial boundaries. And when these people go to the baker to buy a loaf of bread and discuss flowers over there, the customer, the baker *and* the bakery all may be identified as (being in the centre of) nodes of information.

As for the historical narrative, despite all the insights of Tulipmania, I thought many themes were left ill explored.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gladys E. Muren on October 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
For those interested in 17th century Dutch art, this is an excellent resource. The author's research is outstanding and many misconceptions regarding the topic of Tulipmania and corrected and clarified.
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