National Press Club

Author Russell Shorto to join Books & Brunch discussion of his book "Amsterdam," April 19

April 15, 2014 | By Jack Williams |

Author Russell Shorto

Author Russell Shorto

Photo/Image: Keke Keukelaar

Author Russell Shorto will meet with the NPC's Books and Brunch group for a discussion of his book “Amsterdam," beginning at noon Saturday, April 19 in the Fourth Estate Restaurant.

The discussion, like all Books & Brunch meetings, is open to the public as well as NPC members since it's held in the Fourth Estate, the Club's public restaurant.

"Amsterdam" examines the city's history as a center of the 17th century Dutch Enlightenment; the root of the wider Enlightenment, which was the source of many of the principles of the founding fathers of the United States.

"Amsterdam is the cradle of liberalism. And we modern western people, whatever our political persuasions, are all liberals" in the sense of a commitment to individual freedoms," Shorto says.

Shorto’s book is the story of not only political liberalism with its focus on individual rights but also economic liberalism, which in the U.S. is often called "free enterprise," Shorto argues that both were born in Amsterdam. The city was the site of the first stock exchange, and also produced a "Bernie Madoff" of his time.

In "Amsterdam" Shorto traces ideas of personal freedom in the city from the 17th century when Catholics, Protestants, and Jews lived fairly close together and did business with one another in Amsterdam as religious wars were tearing Europe apart, to today where prostitution is legal but regulated.

Shorto is the author of four other books of narrative history and is a contributing writer for the "New York Times.”

On May 17 the group will discuss a novel, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Monthly discussions alternate between fiction and non-fiction books.

Anyone who would like to attend Saturday's discussion or be added to the Books & Brunch email list should email Jack Williams, the Books & Brunch chair, at