Looking beyond the bicycles, coffee shops, and legal prostitution that have earned Amsterdam (Doubleday, $28.95) its top ranking among liberal cities, Russell Shorto explores how his adopted home became what it is and how it has enriched the term liberal. Amsterdam’s liberalism was in place from the start, grounded in the communal effort to wrest—and keep—land from the sea. Emphasizing that the city’s vaunted tolerance is as much a pragmatic approach to managing what would be going on anyway as it is an ideal, Shorto traces principles such as free speech and diversity through centuries of social, political, and economic movements. He also cites Amsterdam for a number of firsts, including corporations and a stock exchange—the very foundation stones of capitalism. If this makes Amsterdam sound like a paradise, it’s not. The place has seen and perpetrated its share of miseries, from bursts of religious violence to Industrial Age slums to complicity in colonial exploitation and ineffective resistance to the Nazis—Anne Frank stands for millions of Holocaust victims. But on the evidence here, “liberal” also means resilience and an ongoing commitment to bettering life for all. In this, Amsterdam has been a shining example, and is well served by Shorto’s warm and deeply insightful profile.

Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385534574
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Doubleday Books - October 22nd, 2013

Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780307743756
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - August 12th, 2014

Gary Kamiya has lived in San Francisco since 1971, and though he’s no longer a taxi driver, only now has he set out to “do the knowledge,” as they say in London. Demonstrating his familiarity with every street in what a poet once called the Cool Gray City of Love (Bloomsbury, $27), the Salon.com cofounder has assembled a series of forty-nine views—each a perfectly-realized and expansive essay. Kamiya, who walks and bikes more than he drives, shows his understanding of the region’s plate tectonics and complex weather patterns, its diverse cultures, shifting demographics, history, and much more. Where can you find the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge? What are the great, gone treasures of the city? What was life like for the original Native American inhabitants, the few hundred Yelamu? From Hitchcock’s Vertigo to Fillmore jazz clubs, from the Gold Rush that jump-started the sleepy town to the 1906 earthquake and fire that nearly destroyed it and on to its 1989 Loma Prieta shadow, Kamiya tells the fascinating stories of this endlessly fascinating place. Forty-nine views aren’t nearly enough for these particular forty-six square miles.

Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608199600
Availability: Out of Print in This Format
Published: Bloomsbury USA - August 6th, 2013

Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781620401262
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - October 14th, 2014

Humans of New York is the brainchild of Brandon Stanton, who set out to create a photographic census of New York City. Originally a photo blog, the project now boasts its first eponymous printed collection of street portraits. The idea is simple: Stanton approaches strangers on the street, takes their photo, and occasionally asks them a question, like, “What was the happiest moment in your life?” Yet Humans of New York (St. Martin’s, $29.99) is more than a simple collection of snapshots. Even without captions, each photograph tells a short story and gives the viewer a glimpse into the life of a stranger. Taken together, these four-hundred arresting and inspiring street portraits form a celebration of humanity in all its diversity and quirkiness.

Humans of New York Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9781250038821
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - October 15th, 2013