Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Notes for the Marketing Department

As you get ready to sell My Father's Century, bear in mind that there are two sets of messages to go out. They will tell people why they should read it and why they would want want to read it. Of course, there will be some overlap.

Why You Should Read My Father's Century

1. It has a lot of European history that is not well known here. The history of the Dutch East Indies is even less well known.

2. Maybe you have Dutch ancestry. You could reconnect with your roots and learn about what's happened since your ancestors left.

3. It portrays WWII as it was for most of the people who were there. It was a hideous defeat for nearly everyone. Most places were occupied at one time. Those that weren't were bombed. Here in America, the war is viewed as a great spark for upward mobility and an improved economy. The stories of our dead and wounded are lost. I remember thinking about this a few months ago at Ft. Rosecrans. A huge wave of WWII vets was buried there in 1960. They were about 40 years old. I wonder what they went through and why they didn't live very long.

4. This book will help Americans break through old polemics and think of things differently. For example, not every war is about stopping the next Hitler, as conservatives tend to think. Similarly, not every war is Vietnam, as liberals tend to think.

5. This book makes Europe a real place with real problems. The majority here views Europe through very distorted lenses. Snarky liberals, led by Bill Maher, want to do everything, "That makes sense, just like Europe." While America and Europe can learn from each other, adopting everything from there wholesale is a bad idea. For liberals, Europe begins and ends in France. They love it there, but while they sit in cafes and solve the world's problems, they never wonder about those who pour their coffee. For conservatives, Europe is another country: the old Soviet Union. Therefore, everything from there is bad. Mak's view of the Dutch experience is nuanced and balanced. It is needed here.

Why You Would Want to read My Father's Century

1. It's an interesting memoir centered on others. It is not self-centered at all. Too much of the memoir genre is navel gazing.

2. Numbers. Anyone in business would want to know about the Netherlands. It is ranked 16th in nominal GDP in the world.

3. Now is a good time to look again at the 20th Century. The nostalgia pieces have come and gone, and we have some distance.

4. The Netherlands and Indonesia are interesting places.

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