In 1630s Holland thousands of people, from the wealthiest merchants to the lowliest street traders, were caught up in a frenzy of buying and selling. The objects of the speculation was not oil or gold, but the tulip, a delicate and exotic bloom that had just arrived from the East.
Over three years rare tulip bulbs changed hands for sums that would have bought a house in Amsterdam. Fortunes were made overnight, but then lost when, within a year, the market collapsed-with disastrous consequences.
Mike Dash recreates the bizarre episode, tracing the tulip's story from its origins on the Turkish steppes to its arrival in Europe. He follows the hysterical boom and devastating bust, beautifully evoking Holland's Golden Age.
This was an interesting read but I now compare these type of books to Kurlansky's books and this didn't quite measure up. But I'm still glad I picked it up.