Dutch history update

We have written previously about the Libris Geschiedenis Prijs and how it informs our purchasing of Dutch history books. The longlist of ten titles for the 2019 prize, chosen from more than 300, was announced in July. This was then whittled down to a shortlist of five titles earlier this month, with the winner to be announced at the end of October.

Looking at last year’s shortlist, we chose to buy four of the five shortlisted titles for 2018 including the winner:

  • Nobel streven: het onwaarschijnlijke maar waargebeurde verhaal van ridder Jan van Brederode by Frits van Oostrom (C215.c.6483). In this book, the winner, the author has reconstructed the life of Jan van Brederode, a little-known nobleman of the late 14th century who died at Agincourt.
  • Thorbecke wil het: biografie van een staatsman by Remieg Aerts (601:5.c.201.24) is the first full biography of Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, an important 19th century Dutch statesman who wrote a constitution in 1848 and thus introduced parliamentary democracy to the Netherlands.
  • Kolonialeoorlogen in Indonesië: vijf eeuwen verzet tegen vreemde overheersing  by Piet Hagen (634:2.c.201.3) looks at five centuries of colonial wars in Indonesia and is a useful reference tool on the history of Indonesia generally.
  • De toren van de Gouden Eeuw: een Hollandse strijd tussen gulden en God by Gabri van Tussenbroek (C215.c.1510) tells the story of 17th century reconstruction and power struggles in Amsterdam.

Moving on to this year’s lists, we have purchased four of the books on the longlist, all of which have proceeded on to the shortlist and are still in the running for the main prize. There are a number of reasons why we may have chosen not to buy the other six books at this stage: the subject matter not sufficiently Dutch in focus so not a good fit with our collection development policy; a subject that we already have plenty on in English; a book that has been or might be translated into English which would be accessible to more readers …

The four titles that we have acquired are:

  • De rechtvaardigen: hoe een Nederlandse consul duizenden Joden redde by Jan Brokken (C215.c.4635) describes the life of a Dutch consul in Lithuania who helped many Jews to escape the Holocaust.
  • Jelle zal wel zien: Jelle Zijlstra, een eigenzinnig leven tussen politiek en economie by Jonne Harmsma (C215.c.6733) is a biography of a Dutch politician who was Prime Minister for a brief time in the 1960s.
  • De Bourgondiërs: aartsvaders van de Lage Landen by Bart van Loo (C215.c.6537) brings the Middle Ages to life, a time when the fragmented Low Countries were unified.
  • De eeuw van Gisèle: mythe en werkelijkheid van een kunstenares by Annet Mooij (C215.c.6538) is the biography of Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht, an artist who operated a safe house for Jews during WW2.

There is also a Libris Literatuur Prijs awarded to the best original Dutch literary novel of the previous year. The 2019 prize was decided in May and went to Rob van Essen for De goede zoon. While we are selective in what Dutch fiction we buy, we did buy this book and it stands at C206.d.1756.

Katharine Dicks

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