Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused

Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused

by Mike Dash


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A vivid narration of 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.

In the 1630s, visitors to the prosperous trading cities of the Netherlands couldn't help but notice that thousands of normally sober, hardworking Dutch citizens were caught up in an extraordinary frenzy of buying and selling. The object of this unprecedented speculation was the tulip, a delicate and exotic Eastern import that had bewitched horticulturists, noblemen, and tavern owners alike. For almost a year rare bulbs changed hands for incredible and ever-increasing sums, until single flowers were being sold for more than the cost of a house. Historians would come to call it tulipomania. It was the first futures market in history, and like so many of the ones that would follow, it crashed spectacularly, plunging speculators and investors into economic ruin and despair. This colorful cast of characters includes Turkish sultans, Yugoslav soldiers, French botanists, and Dutch tavern keepers—all centuries apart historically and worlds apart culturally, but with one thing in common: tulipomania.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780609807651
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 01/28/2001
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 604,163
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

MIKE DASH is a Cambridge-educated writer and magazine publisher and author of five books--Tulipomania, Batavia’s Graveyard, Thug, Satan’s Circus and The First Family. A professional historian before he became a writer, he has written articles for The Guardian, The Daily Mail, and The Fortean Times. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Read an Excerpt

A Mania for Tulips

Excerpted from "Tulipomania"
by .
Copyright © 2001 Mike Dash.
Excerpted by permission of Crown/Archetype.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Map of the United Provinces of the Netherlandsviii
A Note on Pricesix
1A Mania for Tulips1
2The Valleys of Tien Shan4
3Within the Abode of Bliss12
4Stranger from the East27
7An Adornment to the Cleavage64
8The Tulip in the Mirror78
11At the Sign of The Golden Grape130
12The Orphans of Wouter Winkel146
14Goddess of Whores175
15At the Court of the Tulip King196
16Late Flowering208

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Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whether you are a history or a plant buff, the history of the tulip is unquestionably a fascinating topic. If you are both a history and plant buff, like me, this topic is absolutely intoxicating. So deep and thought provoking are the moral and philosophical questions surrounding the tulip craze, it would seem nearly impossible to write a boring book on the subject. Nevertheless, I have read, or attempted to read, some books on this fascinating period of history that have nearly put me to sleep. Tulipomania by Mike Dash captures the essence of what makes the history of this plant so irresistible. Unlike a history book, he doesn¿t get overly bogged down with dates and names. Unlike a horticulture or botany book, he presents some of the technical details of the plant without using technical terms the average reader wouldn¿t appreciate. Rather, Mike Dash tells a story, which just happens to be about a plant, that spans over several hundred years. He paints a colorful picture of personalities, historical towns and, palaces that reads like a novel. However, unlike many novels, this book leaves the reader with many thought provoking questions. The reader is left pondering human social behavior, values, and the prostitution of nature. While enjoyable, this is anything but an empty, pass the time, light reading book. This book should be mandatory reading for all high school students. Mike Dash relays this fascinating saga so clearly; virtually everyone who reads this book will be forever touched. Our society could learn so much from the history of this plant, yet most American schools never even mention this fabulous saga. I know I will make sure my children read this book when they are older.
LMHTWB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tulipomania is a book concerning the economic mania associated with tulips in the Netherlands, c. 1630. The book traces the origin of tulips from the steppes to what is modern day Turkey to the Netherlands. It also recounts the speculation centered on the price of tulip bulbs.The writing is clear, if not inspirational. The author has spent time gathering sources and thankfully provided those sources in a well organized note section. The first several chapters, concerning the origin of the tulip, were fascinating.Unfortunately, most of the rest of the book was lacking and resulted in a book that I struggled to finish. One problem is that while there are notes in the back of the book, there are not asterisks, numbers, etc to indicate in the text that there is a note. Another problem is the lack of illustration. One of the key parts of the speculation dealt with the types of tulips available, yet, other than rather poor descriptions of these special tulips, the reader is left to imagine what they might have looked like. The major I had was the key chapters (on the boom and then bust) consisted of whole paragraphs where each sentence contained "perhaps", "possibly", "maybe", or some other word that indicated this was not fact or reasonable assumption. Personally, I would have rather had the author say, "This is what we know..." and "This is what I think..." As is, I have no idea what is known, what is generally assumed, and what the author added to the discussion. And that brings up the final problem -- as presented, the speculation on tulip bulbs in 17th Netherlands just fits too nicely with speculation on modern commodities. Maybe it does fit, maybe it doesn't -- without clear facts in the text, it's hard to decide how much of this history was reshaped by modern experiences.Overall, I would not recommend reading this book on tulipomania. There are several other books on the topic -- one of them must be better than this.
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