* Why did the 'West' become such a significant actor in the world, and what part did the Netherlands play?
* What were the driving forces in state-formation, and in what respects and why did the Netherlands take a different path to most of Europe?
* How did globalisation impact economic structures and socio-cultural life, and how did the Netherlands react to these new challenges?
* How did this very Christian and bourgeois nation develop into a flagship for liberal tolerance?
The book carefully balances a wider investigation of these issues with close inspections of how ordinary people experienced the changes they prompted. It also provide a convincing, judicious assessment of the ebbs and flows of this small country's global influence over time: prominent as a Golden Age economic powerhouse, colonial power, and bastion of political freedom in some eras, and yet impotent on the world stage at others. Supplemented with 35 images, 10 maps, a wealth of text boxes, charts and tables, as well as a companion website, this book is the definitive history of the Netherlands in a global context.