Men behaving badly during the Dutch Golden Age
  • Sex and Drugs Before Rock 'n' Roll
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Men behaving badly during the Dutch Golden Age

Sex and Drugs before Rock 'n' Roll  is a fascinating volume that presents an engaging overview of what it was like to be young and male in the Dutch Golden Age. Here, well-known cohorts of Rembrandt are examined for the ways in which they expressed themselves by defying conservative values and norms. This study reveals how these young men rebelled, breaking from previous generations: letting their hair grow long, wearing colorful clothing, drinking excessively, challenging city guards, being promiscuous, smoking, and singing lewd songs.

 Cogently argued, this study paints a compelling portrait of the youth culture of the Dutch Golden Age, at a time when the rising popularity of print made dissemination of new cultural ideas possible, while rising incomes and liberal attitudes created a generation of men behaving badly.

This is a path-breaking study of a generation of youth, deeply informative about standards and behaviors in the past, and genuinely entertaining as well.

 Professor Peter Stearns, George Mason University 

Generations are an understudied historical topic. Roberts offers valuable glimpses on urban youth in early seventeenth-century Holland, which allow both comparisons with our own modern experience and an appreciation of the specificity of past lives. As a study of the male culture of a young republic, his book makes also a significant contribution to our understanding of the social construction and daily performance of both gender roles and national identity.

Professor Alessandro Arcangeli, University of Verona

Benjamin B. Roberts is an independent American historian and journalist based in Amsterdam.