Sunday, November 29, 2009

Het Zuigende Land

Usually, a chapter title is easy. As I closed in on the end of Chapter 5, this one started to drive me crazy. It all hinged on the middle word. The dictionary defines it as, "Sucking." I knew it wasn't, "The land that sucks." In some contexts, however, it means exactly what an English speaker would think it means.

I had to look further and further. The word also yields ads for paints and adhesives. Finally, I figured out that it means muddy or sticky. This would be sticky as in humid. I finally settled on, "The Muggy Land."

Near the end of Chapter 5, Mak describes the mutiny on the Zeven Provinciƫn. The event has no American counterpart, but it is similar to The Potemkin, even though it didn't help trigger a revolution.

The Netherlands did not sway to the extreme left or right as much of Europe did at the time. It took a middle course, and stuck with Colijn, who is even more like Herbert Hoover as he is described further. Like Hoover, he had an impressive resume. Again, in spite of this, neither was very ept at confronting The Great Depression. Basically, it was good that the Netherlands stuck to a middle course, but the middle course chosen was more suited to the past than the task at hand.

The rise of Hitler was met with some admiration in many quarters of Dutch society. To his credit, Geert Mak is willing to quote editorials written at the time that approved of the new order in Germany.

Finally, the chapter closes with a look at his family dealing with the death of baby Koosje. He talks about how his parents dealt with it, and how family members visited his grave for years afterwards.

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