Dutch history revisited

In 2015 we wrote about books shortlisted for the 2014 Libris Geschiedenis Prijs, showing that we selectively buy Dutch books on major Dutch historical topics or those with a strong interdisciplinary appeal. In this post we look at a few books acquired in the intervening years which have been shortlisted for the same prize:

First, from the 2015 shortlist, is Cees Fasseur’s Eigen meester, niemands knecht: het leven van Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy, Minister-president van Nederland in de Tweede Wereldoorlog (C214.c.2469). This substantial work is the first major biography of the man who held the important position of Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1940 to 1945 in exile in London.

Nominated for the 2016 prize was De roofkoning: Prins Willem III en de invasie van Engeland by Machiel Bosman (C213.c.3769). Books about William of Orange and his connections with England hold obvious appeal for us. This well-researched but concise account is a combination of history book and novel, telling the story of William’s invasion of England from the different perspectives of the main protagonists. William of Orange is a main player too in the book featured from last year’s shortlist, Oranje tegen de Zonnekoning: de strijd tussen Willem III en Lodewijk XIV om Europa by Luc Panhuysen (C212.c.6787), a comprehensive description of the intense rivalry between Louis XIV and William of Orange who were 17th century contemporaries.

From this year’s shortlist we have bought Moed en overmoed: leven en tijd van Mata-Hari by Jessica Voeten and Angela Dekker (C213.c.9886) which draws on previously unknown letters, photos and documents to provide a compelling portrait of this mysterious figure from the First World War.

Two other historical books bought recently, not on the prize shortlists but nevertheless of interest, are contrasting books of photographs of Amsterdam. The first, Amsterdam 1900: foto’s van Olie, Breitner, Eilers en tijdgenoten (S950.a.201.5960), is the catalogue of an exhibition held in the Amsterdam Stadsarchief from October 2016 to February 2017. It charts a time of change in the city and a turning point in the history of photography. The second, Stad in oorlog: Amsterdam 1940-1945 in foto’s by René Kok and Erik Somers (C200.a.5337) is based on extensive research carried out in the Amsterdam city archives and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies as well as archives further afield which has unearthed previously unseen photos from this fascinating period in the city’s history.

Katharine Dicks

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