One thing that impresses me about Geert "Big" Mak is how well he writes about other countries. I can't tell if the Netherlands is that open, or if it's just him.
Chapter 3 closes with a look at England, France, Germany and Holland. In England, people retreated into their towns. Germany exploded, and a wild Berlin took over from Paris as the new capital of Europe. The Germans went whole hog for decadence, then started pining for order. The Netherlands had some upheaval. The royal family had an exit plan for a time. Still, it wasn't the wild swings that Germany had. There was a struggle for an 8 hour day. It even had a song, "De Achturenmars," "The 8 Hour March."
Again, Mak's writing is a useful contrast to what usually comes out of the US. The best writing about Mexico is American, but it's never been mainstream. I have never seen an American book about Canada, long derided as "USA North." Our history books are silent about our neighbors for long stretches. If Mak's mentality was American, other countries would only show up during wars, with the occasional foreigner stopping by to introduce a new pop culture phenomenon.
Now that most of my introductory material is out of the way, I will be away for a while. This blog will continue either once a month or at the end of each chapter. I have been reading De Eeuw van Mijn Vader since December 2008. I thought I would be faster by now. Reading a page takes 35-45 min. Each month, I'll comment on Dutch media I've heard and what I've read.
The next post will appear at the end of September.