Salty, contradictory

Review of “Amsterdam” in the Times (UK):

“Amsterdam is a pokey place”, Shorto admits, but in comparison with bigger, brasher cities, it has traditionally been a testing ground for freedom, a beacon for political liberalism, religious tolerance and social equality. It has also always been a city long in its cultural and artistic reach. On the other hand … Shorto’s tender, truthful love letter to his adopted city admits that it has recently had a bit of trouble on all these fronts and grants that casual visitors translate them into free love and legal highs when they’re running about from one licensed brothel and hash bar to another. Even a mayor of Amsterdam has said “craziness is a value.” From the 1300s, when the first canals were constructed, the city has come to terms with the sea from which it derived its power and riches. Shorto’s lively book is true to its salty, contradictory character.