Tulipomania by Mike Dash

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Tulipomania:

A book. About a flower. And I liked it.

Quick synopsis:

The history of tulipomania. What the hell is that? In 1630s Netherlands, they really liked tulips. They liked them so much, people lost fortunes. ON TULIPS!

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

This is just a great line. This is about Dutch taverns (pg. 138): “These gentlemen have so many rules and ceremonies for getting drunk that I am repelled as much by the discipline as by the excess.” Of course, a Frenchman said it.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

In 1539, people in Europe were just getting introduced to the potato. They also thought it was poisonous.

My Take on Tulipomania:

So, here’s the deal. I was going to have an interview with author Mike Dash. I figured, I read one of his books, and loved it. It’s one of my all-time favorites (Batavia’s Graveyard). It turns out, Mike is super accommodating and gave me a date only a week out from when I first emailed him. Now I’m in a rush. I buy a couple more of his books and have them rushed. I’m short on time, so I pick the skinniest one. Lo and behold, I’m reading about freaking tulips.

The stranger part? It was interesting! There’s the history of how the Ottoman Empire made tulips a “thing.” Then a lot of years pass, they start making different color tulips, and then…. tulip mania. What is tulip mania? It’s when you start speculating (like the stock market) on tulips. Which they did for obscene amounts of money. And then like any stock market, they crashed hard.

I’m still amazed someone wrote a book about tulips that didn’t make me want to immediately fall asleep. Mike knew what he was doing and litters the book with hilarious (or gruesome) anecdotes. And then those crazy Dutch get drunk in taverns and start spending money on tulips.

People will spend money on anything.


Against all odds, a really fun book. If you are not a history nerd, you probably will not go for it. But if you are, there is a lot to love here.

Or also if you’re a tulip nerd. Is that even a thing? Buy it here!

If You Liked This Try:

Tulipomania by Mike Dash