The Dutch in the 17th century, Russell Shorto informs us at a characteristic moment in “Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City,” were on their way to becoming “the greatest shipping nation the world had ever seen.” Amsterdam’s canal ring was “the greatest urban feat of the age.” In fact, Shorto says, Amsterdam more or less gave us the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Enlightenment and the stock exchange (though Antwerp’s stock exchange building is 80 years older). The United East India Company, put together in Amsterdam, was “unique in world history,” Shorto writes. It “remade the world.” It “pioneered globalization and invented what might be the first modern bureaucracy.” It inaugurated “the beginning of consumerism, which, for better or worse, is surely a component of liberalism.”