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.
The centerpiece of this story is a stunning two months, December 1636 and January 1637, when fortunes were made and lost in the Netherlands--in tulip bulb futures trading. Stripped to its basics, this would be a dry case study in an economics textbook. But Dash adds depth to the tale by including relevant bits of botany, sociology and history, as well as glimpses of the personalities involved in the creation of the tulip market, such as the orphans who made a fortune selling their late father's tulip bulbs and the man who owned a dozen extremely rare bulbs and wouldn't part with them at any price. Occasionally, he provides too much detail--his descriptions of how many guilders changed hands in particular transactions become repetitive, as do his physical descriptions of specific tulip varieties. Dash is fascinated by the contrast between the aesthetic sense of the Ottoman sultans (reflected in their love of tulip-laden gardens) and the ferocity of their rule (evidenced by fratricide, garroting and torture), but his musings on this interesting paradox are too unfocused to be enlightening. Overall, however, Dash (The Limit; Borderlands) effectively brings together a diverse mix of disciplines to illuminate the cultural, financial and psychological elements of an economic bubble--a subject that should be of great interest today. Readers interested in the technical aspects of economic speculation and those attuned to human folly will find this a worthwhile read. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Historian/journalist Dash (Borderlands) tells the history of the tulip from its origins in Central Asia through its introduction to Europe via the Ottoman Turks. He also analyzes the reasons for its popularity, explaining the aesthetic and economic fascination the flower held for Dutch burghers as well as Ottoman sultans. His history of the speculative craze for buying tulip futures in 17th-century Holland (which led to single bulbs being traded for the price of a well-appointed town house) is authoritative and thoroughly researched, providing exhaustive detail regarding its economic and social causes. Anna Pavord's The Tulip (LJ 3/1/99), however, covers the topic in a much more engaging manner from the botanical viewpoint, with lavish illustrations that are completely lacking here. Her treatment is also broader in scope, including English and French crazes for the bulb and extending the history of its cultivation into the 20th century. Pavord's is therefore the preferred purchase for all but the most specialized collections on gardening or economic history.--Daniel Starr, Museum of Modern Art, New York Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
A delightful read. --Wall Street Journal
A marvelous parable of greed, skullduggery, opulence, extravagance, and retribution. --Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Enigma
Irresistible. --Philadelphia Inquirer
Praise for Mike Dash: Dash writes with unabashedly cinematic flair, backed by meticulous research. --New York Times ''Dash writes the best kind of history: detailed, imaginative storytelling founded on vast knowledge. --Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Up-close, personal, and full of you-are-there detail... Dash is that rarity: a perfectionist in his research and a writer who perfectly carves out his story with a pen as sharp as a stiletto. --Toronto Globe and Mail