23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
A great book: erudite yet very readable, 8 Nov 2000
A fascinating insight into the origins of one of our closest neighbouring states. Wonderfully readable, superior in this respect to many other bestselling history books. The themes are often surprising (the popularity of breakfast paintings, for example) but help to demonstrate how widely distributed was the wealth of the nation in that era. It's interesting to consider the confluence of trade and democracy in such a centrally-located country, when all around was despotism, and to reflect on its importance in sowing the seeds of liberal democracy to its neighbours in succeeding centuries.