Sex and Drugs before Rock 'n' Roll
Sex and Drugs before Rock 'n' Roll
Youth Culture and Masculinity during Holland's Golden Age
€ 65,95 excl. VAT
Number of pages
Publication date
19 x 25 cm

Reviews and Features

"Roberts has an amazingly resourceful sense of evidence, including poems, drinking songs, diaries, court cases, prints and paintings, books and moral instruction and proverbs. ... Roberts offers a lesson for the Netherlands today, when asocial seems to have permanently trumped gezellig." -- Jonathan Gill, Holland Times (October, 2012)

"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. It's adeptly written to inform both historians and those in other disciplines concerned with youth more broadly." -- Professor Peter Stearns, George Mason University, editor of the Journal of Social History

"Benjamin Roberts has written an absorbing case study of youth culture and the quest for manhood in early modern Europe. Focusing on the generation of young men living in the towns and cities of the Dutch Republic during the 1620s and 1630s, he reveals how excesses such as binge drinking, sexual promiscuity and violence on the streets were in some ways tolerated as signs of virility. The work is very readable, keeping a close eye on parallels with present-day youth, and based on an impressive array of primary sources.” -- Professor Colin Heywood, University of Nottingham, author of History of Childhood. Children and Childhood in the West from Medieval to Modern Times|

"Roberts’ case study of late adolescent boys in early seventeenth-century Holland shows us the importance of local studies and of a specific focus to tease out rich examples. Using an array of primary sources and an impressive command of scholarship in English, Dutch, and German, Roberts explores the ways in which young men came of age in the booming Dutch Republic of the 1620s and 1630s.” -- Professor Chris Carlsmith, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, author of A Renaissance Education. Schooling in Bergamo and the Venetian Republic, 1500-1650

"Generations are an understudied historical topic. Benjamin 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, author of Recreation in the Renaissance. Attitudes towards Leisure and Pastimes in European Culture, 1350-1700

"Through its lively writing and well-chosen illustrations, Sex and Drugs before Rock 'n' Roll does a wonderful job of immersing the reader into the lives of early modern Dutch men. Its cultural analysis is particularly effective when it places archival records along literary sources." --Troy D. Osborne, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo

"Roberts’ book aside from being a fascinating read that simultaneously brings interesting sources to light, offers several avenues for further research in the field of Dutch masculinity and gender." --Amanda Pipkin, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Benjamin Roberts

Sex and Drugs before Rock 'n' Roll

Youth Culture and Masculinity during Holland's Golden Age

Sex and Drugs Before the 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.

Benjamin Roberts

Benjamin B. Roberts is an American historian and journalist. He resides in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.