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

Mike Dash, Author Crown Publishers $23 (288p) ISBN 978-0-609-60439-7
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.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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FORMATS
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-307-56082-7
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-575-40250-8
Hardcover - 978-0-7838-9514-7
Hardcover - 389 pages - 978-0-7540-1652-6
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