From Hugh's list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.
His earlier and best-known book, The Embarrassment of Riches, may offer a more comprehensive synopsis of the culture of the Dutch Republic’s Golden Age, including everything from the fashions, drinking and dice games that paradoxically thrived amid the strictures of Calvinism to the interpretations placed on passing natural events such as comets in the sky or the appearance of a whale on the beach. But Schama here gives us a loving and humane portrait of its greatest artist, doing in words what Rembrandt did in paint for his subjects, presenting his humanity with truth and dignity enlivened by inimitable splashes of colour and brilliant strokes of the pen. Using the paintings themselves as his window, Schama allows us not only to see back in time to this astonishing period, but to view it as those who lived through it must have seen it.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
This dazzling, unconventional biography shows us why, more than three centuries after his death, Rembrandt continues to exert such a hold on our imagination. Deeply familiar to us through his enigmatic self-portraits, few facts are known about the Leiden miller's son who tasted brief fame before facing financial ruin (he was even forced to sell his beloved wife Saskia's grave). The true biography of Rembrandt, as Simon Schama demonstrates, is to be discovered in his pictures. Interweaving of seventeenth-century Holland, Schama allows us to see Rembrandt in a completely fresh and original way.