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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going Dutch
This is an enthralling book. It is a "sociable" history, the key figure being Constantijn Huygens, a real renaissance man, and his activities within and between Holland and England during the course of the 17th century. Huygens' many relationships in many different spheres, especially diplomatic, are set in the context of the political and military traumas which both...
Published on 4 Jan 2011 by Debbie Inman

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rich, but heavy going
This book examines the interaction between English and Dutch culture in the 17th century, and one of its themes is that these relations were were very close long before the reign of William and Mary; and in fact Lisa Jardine ends her story around 1690, and deals hardly at all with the Dutch influence in England after that time.

She begins with the political...
Published on 14 Jun 2009 by Ralph Blumenau


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going Dutch, 4 Jan 2011
This is an enthralling book. It is a "sociable" history, the key figure being Constantijn Huygens, a real renaissance man, and his activities within and between Holland and England during the course of the 17th century. Huygens' many relationships in many different spheres, especially diplomatic, are set in the context of the political and military traumas which both countries had endured or were still enduring.

The scientific, philosophical and political exchanges between both countries are portrayed on a very human scale with the many quotations from the writings of those who were involved in them. Jardine notes that collaboration in scientific endeavour continued despite the regular wars between England and Holland, and also notes the connection between trade and commerce, and the spread of scientific knowledge. The book concentrates on a handful of privileged and particularly able individuals, but this maintains its focus, and emphasises the influence that individuals can and do have on national and international affairs.

My favourite quotation is on p.366, by William Brereton: "It is no wonder that these Dutchmen should thrive before us. Their statesmen are all merchants. They have travelled in foreign countries, they understand the course of trade, and they do everything to further its interests." If only this were a pre-requisite for modern aspiring politicians.

I should declare an interest - I am an English engineer who lives in Voorburg in Holland, close to Huygens' house Hofwijk, the Huygens family are naturally local heroes, and Christiaan Huygens is a very important scientific figure for me. But this makes this book all the more attractive. The descriptive writing brings the story to life as it enables one to picture the scenes described much as reading Hardy brings Wessex to life. It could be turned into an excellent and informative TV documentary by simply reading it out and taking cameras to the appropriate locations, many of which still exist.

Anyone interested in this period will deepen their insight and empathy for it by reading this book, and anyone who takes it with them on a visit to The Hague and Voorburg, reading it while sitting in one of our lovely cafes or restaurants, will deepen their appreciation of this part of Holland and its rich history. The easy writing style makes this book highly readable, but it is not lightweight history. Highly recommended.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rich, but heavy going, 14 Jun 2009
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This book examines the interaction between English and Dutch culture in the 17th century, and one of its themes is that these relations were were very close long before the reign of William and Mary; and in fact Lisa Jardine ends her story around 1690, and deals hardly at all with the Dutch influence in England after that time.

She begins with the political background. In the first chapter we are told of the sheer scale of the fleet and army with which William of Orange invaded England in 1688 and reminds us that London experienced an occupation by Dutch troops for the next two years. Lisa Jardine shows how meticulously the invasion had been planned, especially with regard to the propaganda which accompanied it, much of it under the guidance of Gilbert Burnet. This managed to convey the idea that William's purpose had been to save England from a Catholic dictatorship which was alien to it; but she also makes the well-established point that it was a strategic necessity for the Dutch to prevent England cooperating again, as it had one in 1672, with Louis XIV's obvious aggressive designs against the United Provinces.

In the following chapters Lisa Jardine goes back a couple of generations to show the close dynastic relationship between the Stuarts and the House of Orange. The latter had, for the last two generations, behaved more and more like a hereditary monarchy with lavish courts, and had established dynastic links with the Stuarts: the Stadtholder Frederick Henry had married his son, the future William II, to Mary, the daughter of Charles I; William II in turn had married his son, the future William III, to Mary, the daughter of the future James II. In addition, Charles I's sister Elizabeth, after she and her husband Frederick had been driven out of Bohemia and the Palatinate, had established another sumptuous court in The Hague (Frederick being related to the House of Orange). Frederick and William II predeceased their wives by many years, in 1632 and 1650 respectively, and their widows maintained their courts separately from that of the future William III and his wife; so that English women presided over three separate courts. These all attracted English visitors and, after the victories of the parliamentary armies in England, many royalist refugees.

All this is well told, but is, at least in outline, quite well known to any sixth former who has studied the period. What is perhaps less well known is the role of the Huygens family, to whom Lisa Jardine devotes much of the book, with a degree of detail which some readers may find indigestible. The Anglophile Constantijn Huygens senior (1596 to 1687) was the foremost advisor the House of Orange for almost 50 years, while his son, also called Constantijn (1629 to 1695), was secretary to William III. As a young man the elder Huygens had lived for a while in England in the entourage of James I's Resident Ambassador to the Hague, Sir Dudley Carlton. Carlton was a great connoisseur of art, and was much involved in the art trade between England, Italy and the Low Countries. Carlton's choices shaped the tastes of both courts. Huygens himself became not only a diplomat but a great lover of painting, sculpture, music and gardening; and Lisa Jardine devotes many pages to the artistic influence he exerted through his patronage. When the Commonwealth sold off Charles I's art collection, many pieces were snapped up by the Dutch. While James I and Charles I had employed the Flemish artists Rubens and Van Dyck, Oliver Cromwell employed the Dutch artist Pieter Lely, though that painter would also work for the restored Stuarts.

Incidentally, Lisa Jardine devotes so much to the interaction of Englishmen and Flemings in Antwerp that parts of her book might well have been called `Going Flemish'. She surmises, for example, that Sir William Cavendish and other royalist exiles in Antwerp, were `doubtlessly' influenced by the neo-classical style of Rubens' house in that city to remodel their own country houses when they returned to England after the Restoration. Huygens' taste, too, both in architecture and in painting, was influenced by Rubens and in turn influenced Englishmen in the United Provinces.

There are two chapter on the gardens, often containing collections of rare flowers, of Huygens and other wealthy Dutchmen. These were admired by English visitors, and one collection of exotic plants was moved to embellish Hampton Court soon after that palace became the favourite residence of William III. Otherwise the connections made by Lisa Jardine between English and Dutch gardens are few and tenuous.

It is a different matter when we come to the connections, cooperations and rivalries between Dutch and English scientists. Here we are introduced to Christiaan Huygens, the second son of Constantijn senior, a `virtuoso' scientist and an overseas member of the Royal Society. He worked together with Sir Robert Moray and Alexander Bruce of the Royal Society on perfecting pendulum clocks. There are problems with pendulum clocks at sea, and Christaan claimed to have invented a spring-regulated clock, a claim contested by Robert Hooke, also of the Royal Society. In 1689 Christiaan established a close friendship with Newton. Hooke claimed priority over discoveries made by these two in optics and gravity. His protests were ignored at the time, and Lisa Jardine suggests that this was at least in part because he was associated with the Stuarts and such men were marginalised after the accession of William III, in favour of those who had been friends of the Orange cause.

All this cultural interaction continued even during the several times in the 17th century that England and Holland were at war, and there is in the last chapter a brief account of the Second Dutch War - mainly, I think, to show that the relations between the English and the Dutch populations in and around New Amsterdam (New York) were friendly both before and after that war.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and very readable, 25 May 2014
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I knew about the 'Glorious Revolution' from school but I didn't realise that it was really a Dutch Invasion
with a huge fleet sailing through the Channel and Dutch troops based in London.
The book is much more than just history - see the cover.
I dont often write reviews for Amazon but I would like to recommend this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Generally rewarding, if occasionally rather dry, 16 Feb 2013
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In this entertaining study of British history from the late seventeenth century Professor Jardine analyses he steps that brought about the Glorious Revolution which saw James II deposed in favour of his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. While everyone remembers the failed Spanish Armada of 1588, the far larger and more effective Dutch invasion fleet that set out against Britain exactly one hundred years later tends to be overlooked in the communal shared memory of history (at least in Britain!).

However, although Britain was either openly at war with, or at least in a state of muted belligerence towards, Holland throughout much of the 1670s and 1680s, there was a flourishing exchange of cultural endeavour, and even the open correspondence about scientific and technological advances (even though many of them were of military value). This was, after all, a golden age for science, which saw the launch of the Royal Society under the patronage of Charles II.

This is territory that Professor Jardine has already richly harvested in her biographies of Wren and Hooke, and "Ingenious Pursuits", her history of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment. She writes with a great clarity that lets her immense enthusiasm shine through. Of course, it is not at all surprising that she should show such zest for the pursuit of knowledge - after all, her father was Professor Jacob Bronowski. However, her particular gift is the ability to convey that enthusiasm to her readers, even those without a strong scientific grounding themselves.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Double Dutch, 9 Oct 2009
Jardine writes in the style of many social documentaries on commercial TV channels, where it is presumed that the viewer or reader looses interest and attention after a while and particularly following a commercial break. To rekindle interest and compensate for short attention spans, you repeat previous statements and conclusion, summerise each chapter and give a hint of what is to come. It may perhaps also be that she needed more words to fill out this volume and justify its publication, and gives the impression that Jardine questions the ability of her readers to follow even her rather basic arguments and conclusions. As a result the book lacks depth as well as relevance. I persisted to about half way, until I realised that there was not much more to be gained from my struggle with repetitions, irrelevant facts and insignificant conclusions.
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42 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading and disappointing., 30 Jun 2008
By 
J. Parkinson (Uxbridge, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory (Hardcover)
Do not buy this book because of its title or its dust cover picture. These appear to have been designed to sell the book, and are misleading.
"Lisa Jardine tests the traditional view that the rise of England as a world power took place at the expense of the Dutch. She finds instead that it was a handing on of the baton of cultural and intellectual supremacy to Briton....." These words from inside the dust cover contradict the book's title. England did not rob Holland of its glory. And Lisa stole the "Going Dutch" title from other earlier books.

The book is a series of essays - on the Dutch invasion of 1688, and much correspondance is used to illustrate cultural exchanges in art, horticulture, and science. There are lots of pictures, a good bibliography, in nice print, on good quality paper.

Watch out for garbled sentances, some contradictory, and there is little to link people and events in one essay with where they are mentioned in another.It seems as though this book was written in a hurry and as such it does not do justice either to its important topics or its distinguished author.

It is disappointing and irritating that such a well known author with access to broad-based research facilities fails to produce a book worthy of her resources or of her talents. Briton is well known for its histories. This book does not add to that reputation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cultural myopia, 16 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory (Hardcover)
The book leaves the impression that Lisa Jardine would have benefited from the services of a good editor, who might have persuaded her that including, apparently, every last piece of information she has turned up in her research (especially about the Huygens family) can produce longueurs, especially for the non-specialist. The latter may well also be floored by sentences like "They reminded him... that Brouncker and Huygens had together debated the isochronism of the cycloidal pendulum at length, that Wren had rectified the cycloid ahead of Huygens" (p.289). Abstruse technical terms should not be left unexplained in a book intended for the general reader. But as the volume is very handsomely produced and is beautifully illustrated, perhaps Jardine at least had a good picture editor.

She opens with the detailed account of the invasion and regime change of 1688, which she accurately characterises as neither glorious nor a revolution. Jardine notes that English historians tend to gloss over the Dutch invasion, but she fails to explain why, even though what is at stake here is not difficult to work out. Insofar as there are any respectable arguments for a monarchical system, at least it is supposed to provide stability by operating strict rules of succession. Everyone knows who is entitled to be the monarch, and that clarity is supposed to rule out power struggles and civil wars. Consequently, it is highly embarrassing for supporters of monarchy if a group of leading members of the governing class, as happened in 1688, sets all the rules aside and treasonably invites a foreigner to invade and oust the king. This sets a dangerous precedent which obliging historians have dutifully soft-pedalled so as to sustain a key constitutional fiction. This is, of course, the idea that the royal succession observes fixed and reliable rules, beyond the reach of political manoeuvring. Dutifully likewise historians have created the myth of a Glorious Revolution, aimed at restoring political liberty, rather than as was the reality, the aggrandising of the House of Orange alongside the restoration of political clout to some few Anglican grandees.

Very little of this explanation appears in Lisa Jardine's account, and another problem is that she almost exclusively writes "history from above", overwhelmingly restricting her attention to behaviour and attitudes in elite circles in this opening section, and indeed in the book as a whole. She even commits the solecism of confusing the viewpoint of the political class with that of people at large. Discussing the Stuart monarchy's difficulties in producing a healthy heir, she proposes that "the whole of Europe waited expectantly" when James II's wife was due to give birth. The overwhelming probability, of course, is that relatively few Europeans had even heard of James' wife, Mary of Modena.

In a similarly airy way Lisa Jardine refers (p.26) to "the decision of the English people to accept William and Mary as joint monarchs". Since ordinary English people were never consulted on the change of regime, it's not clear what kind of decision-making she has in mind here, or even that there was indeed general acquiescence. Only four decades before 1688 an English king had been beheaded, and an extraordinary upwelling of political ideas, including democratic and egalitarian ones, had occurred during the Civil War and Commonwealth periods. General support in the country for a foreign invasion, on the invitation of a few self-serving Anglican grandees, seems unlikely, especially as James II had made concessions to religious dissenters, whom he needed as allies, targeted by oppressive legislation after the 1660 Restoration and having consequently much to lose from the dethroning of King James. There were no Putney Debates about the desirability of importing William and Mary to replace him, and the fact that, as Jardine records, the English regiments were all sent off to barracks and camps at least 20 miles away from London, and kept there for an extended period, suggests that the new regime had good reason to fear resistance to its coup d'etat. There is in fact no reason to suppose that a high-handed project of regime change, involving an invasion by foreign troops and the imposition of a ruler sourced from overseas, would have been any more popular in the 17th century than such projects have proved to be in our own time.

One related question Jardine avoids is whether the living conditions of the mass of the population were any better under William and Mary that they had been under James II. She does briefly mention (p. 14) the "obvious local poverty" in the Torbay area where William landed, but then drops the subject to concentrate almost exclusively for the rest of the book on the glamorous world of the wealthy and privileged. The main focus of "Going Dutch" is of course cultural history, but its interpretation of culture is extraordinarily narrow, paying almost no attention whatever to the working lives and skills of ordinary people whose labour, and the surplus wrung from it, were indispensable for making possible the ostentatious and hugely expensive material culture of the Anglo-Dutch elite which Jardine describes. There is no trace of Walter Benjamin's insight that "every cultural monument is simultaneously a monument to barbarism". Much of the large accumulations of wealth which fuelled the flourishing of the arts during the Dutch Golden Age derived from such sources as trafficking slaves to the Americas, and forced labour in the Dutch East Indies, but there is barely a hint in Lisa Jardine's account of the close relationship between colossal accumulations of wealth on the one hand, and exploitation and human suffering on the other. A less myopic cultural history would have been preferable.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Going Dutch - worthy but not spectacularly interesting., 30 April 2012
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Lisa Jardine wrote a much better book about much the same period in "The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man who Measured London". Neither Constantijn Huygens the father or his son of the same name are sufficiently interesting characters to carry the narrative in the way that Robert Hooke could, and their enthusiasm for matching up talented painters with potential customers is intrinsically less interesting that Robert Hooke's activities as an architect and a scientist.

Granting the limitations of the characters available to carry the narrative, Lisa Jardine has done a workman-like job of presenting a cultural history of interesting period in Dutch and English history. She's not Jonathon Israel, whose history of the Dutch Republic is a much more comprehensive study, but correspondingly less accessible, but she's produced an interesting - if minor - work.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating & Informative, 31 Mar 2011
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I will continue to use it to 'dip-into' now and then for reminders and new information. It provided some refreshing perspectives that challenged many things I had previously been taught. Not really a 'touristy' book, but nevertheless very interesting if you want some extra and special insights. Thank you!
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15 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going Dutch, 7 July 2008
This review is from: Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory (Hardcover)
I really loved Lisa Jardine's 'Going Dutch'. Compelling, thought-provoking and meticulously researched, this is a fascinating study of a larger culture that connected England and Holland in the seventeenth century. Beautifully written and beautifully illustrated, I was completely captivated.
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Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory
Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory by Lisa Jardine (Hardcover - 1 April 2008)
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