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Book Review: Secret Amsterdam by Marjoljn van Eys and Delphine Robiot

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Secret Amsterdam is part of a series of guides to various cities around the world by local people, presented by Jon Glez Publishing and dedicated to finding interesting places and things to see that are not in typical tourist guides.

Secret Amsterdam is full of surprises. Find out where there is a park where you can make love right out in the open. Tour the city finding fascinating gable stones, which were used to identify houses and businesses in the days when most people could not read and streets did not have names,depicting a myriad of subjects. Visit museums dedicated to pianolas (player pianos) and barrel organs. Learn about buildings and art which stand as memorials to the thousands of Jews who were deported during World War II. Learn the history of the “Blood-Stained House” and what work of art shocked even the extremely open-minded citizens of Amsterdam.

The book is liberally illustrated with intriguing photos in both black and white and color, allowing the reader to experience Amsterdam’s prolific public art and distinctive architecture.

Like the other books in this series, Secret Amsterdam offers a great deal of information on Dutch history and the history of Amsterdam as well. You will learn of dikes and locks, ships and commerce. Some of the history is dark, of course, as with any country. The role of the Dutch in the slavery trade in the West Indies is touched upon, as is the fate of the Jews and the Gypsies in World War II. But much of it is colorful and full of art and innovation.

One issue with this book, as with others in the series, is the use of orange blocks with black type for sharing history and stories, which makes these difficult to read in any but the best light.

Despite this small issue, however, this book will be a delight for anyone planning a trip to Amsterdam or any armchair traveler who has an interest in the city. Even those who have experienced the city before will surely find treasures here of which they were unaware.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.
  • Delphine Robiot

    Thanks Rhetta for your review. We’ll use a better color for the new edition !