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RECOMMENDED READING 
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. The Diary of a Young Girl (also known as The Diary of Anne Frank) is a book of the writings from the Dutch language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The family was apprehended in 1944 and Anne Frank ultimately died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The diary was retrieved by Miep Gies, who gave it to Anne's father, Otto Frank, the only known survivor of the family. The diary has now been published in more than 60 different languages.
  • The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age by Simon Schama. Schama explores the mysterious contradictions of the Dutch nation that invented itself from the ground up, attained an unprecedented level of affluence, and lived in constant dread of being corrupted by happiness. Drawing on a vast array of period documents and sumptuously reproduced art, Schama re-creates in precise detail a nation's mental state. He tells of bloody uprisings and beached whales, of the cult of hygiene and the plague of tobacco, of thrifty housewives and profligate tulip-speculators. He tells us how the Dutch celebrated themselves and how they were slandered by their enemies.
  • Daily Life in Rembrandt's Holland by Paul Zumthor. This engagingly written study presents a rich picture of a dynamic society that had torn itself away from the mediocrity of its past—a stagnant nation of peasants and fishermen—to pursue an overseas empire that led to great financial wealth and a highly sophisticated cultivation of the arts. This classic work first appeared in English translation in 1963.
  • Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused by Mike Dash. This is the history of the tulip, from its origins on the barren, windswept steppes of central Asia to its place of honor in the lush imperial gardens of Constantinople, to its starring moment as the most coveted—and beautiful—commodity in Europe. Historian Mike Dash vividly narrates the story of this amazing flower and the colorful cast of characters—Turkish sultans, Yugoslav soldiers, French botanists, and Dutch tavern keepers—who were centuries apart historically and worlds apart culturally, but who all had one thing in common: tulipomania.
  • Spice: The History of a Temptation by Jack Turner. This is a history of the spice trade told not in the conventional narrative of politics and economics, nor of conquest and colonization, but through the intimate human impulses that inspired and drove it. Here is an exploration of the centuries-old desire for spice in food, in medicine, in magic, in religion, and in sex—and of the allure of forbidden fruit lingering in the scents of cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, mace, and clove.
  • The UnDutchables: an observation of the netherlands, its culture and its inhabitants by Colin White and Laurie Boucke. Presents an in-depth humorous look at Dutch life, quirks, customs, and character, with observations of Dutch behavior in the Netherlands and abroad; includes appendices on Dutch idioms, expressions, and homonyms.
  • Lonely Planet My Dam Life by Sean Condon. In My 'Dam Life he casts a witty, watchful and wonderfully self-deprecating eye over his expat experience of laziness and leisure, dreams and destiny in the Venice of the North. With his uncanny ability to seek out the absurd in everyday life, Sean finds plenty of targets in a city of hemp and high culture, canals and bicycles, idiosyncratic plumbing and internationally unrenowned cuisine. My 'Dam Life strikes a hilarious chord with anyone who has followed their dream of starting a new life abroad.
  • Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh, ed. Irving Stone and Jean Stone. Van Gogh's brother Theo was his confidant and companion, and, in his letters to him, Van Gogh reveals himself as artist and man. Even more than if he had purposely intended to tell his life story, Van Gogh's letters lay bare his deepest feelings, as well as his everyday concerns and his views of the world of art.
  • The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I by Barbara W. Tuchman. In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. Dizzyingly comprehensive and spectacularly portrayed with her famous talent for evoking the characters of the war’s key players, Tuchman’s magnum opus is a classic for the ages.
  • The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas. Set in Holland in the late 17th century, "The Black Tulip" is the story of Cornelius De Witt, a tulip grower who aspires to grow the elusive black tulip. Following the murder of his brother John De Witt, Cornelius is caught up in a web of political intrigue. In "The Black Tulip," Dumas masterfully weaves the historical events that surrounded Holland during the tulip-mania of the 17th century into a gripping political allegory.
  • Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. This luminous story begins in the present day, when a professor invites a colleague to his home to see a painting that he has kept secret for decades. The professor swears it is a Vermeer—but why has he hidden this important work for so long? The reasons unfold in a series of events that trace the ownership of the painting back to World War II and Amsterdam, and still further back to the moment of the work's inspiration. As the painting moves through each owner's hands, what was long hidden quietly surfaces, illuminating poignant moments in multiple lives. Susan Vreeland's characters remind us, through their love of this mysterious painting, how beauty transforms and why we reach for it, what lasts and what in our lives is singular and unforgettable.
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings. History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius . . . even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.
  • Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach. A tale of art, beauty, lust, greed, deception and retribution -- set in a refined society ablaze with tulip fever. Ambitions, desires, and dreams breed a grand deception -- and as the lies multiply, events move toward a thrilling and tragic climax. In this richly imagined international bestseller, Deborah Moggach has created the rarest of novels -- a lush, lyrical work of fiction that is also compulsively readable. Seldom has a novel so vividly evoked a time, a place, and a passion.
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: A Novel by Gregory Maguire. We have all heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty ... and what curses accompanied Cinderella's looks? Set against the backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris's path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister. While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household -- and the treacherous truth of her former life.
  • Resistance: A Novel by Anita Shreve. This tale of impossible love--told with the same narrative grace and keen eye for human emotion that have distinguished all of Anita Shreve's cherished bestsellers--leads us into a harrowing world where forbidden passions have catastrophic consequences. In a Nazi-occupied Belgian village, Claire Daussois, the wife of a resistance worker, shelters a wounded American bomber pilot in a secret attic hideaway. As she nurses him back to health, Claire is drawn into an affair that seems strong enough to conquer all--until the brutal realities of war intrude, shattering every idea she ever had about love, trust, and betrayal.
  • Why the Dutch are Different by Ben Coates. Mingling history with travelogue, English expat Ben Coates speaks to why the Netherlands is such a fascinating country, significant beyond its size. His probing narrative explains the importance of the color orange, the ongoing battle to keep water out, the Dutch love affairs with milk and beer, their attitudes toward nature and their world-famous culture of tolerance.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING 
  • The Diary of Anne Frank (1959). A diary discovered in the attic of an Amsterdam factory reveals the plight of a jewish refugee family that lived there in hiding for two years during the Nazi occupation.
  • Soldier of Orange (1979). This film depicts World War II through the eyes of several Dutch students. It follows them through the beginning of the war, the Nazi occupation and the liberation.
  • Vincent & Theo (1990). The familiar tragic story of Vincent van Gogh is broadened by focusing as well on his brother Theodore, who helped support Vincent. The movie also provides a nice view of the locations which Vincent painted.
  • Antonia's Line (1996). A Dutch matron establishes and, for several generations, oversees a close-knit, matriarchal community where feminism and liberalism thrive.
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003). A young peasant maid working in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer becomes his talented assistant and the model for one of his most famous works.
  • Black Book (2006). In the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II, a Jewish singer infiltrates the regional Gestapo headquarters for the Dutch resistance.

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