Book

Geert Mak

In Europe

Reizen door de twintigste eeuw

A journey through the twentieth century

Geert Mak spent a year criss-crossing the continent, tracing the history of Europe from Verdun to Berlin, Saint Petersburg to Auschwitz, Kiev to Srebrenica. He set off in search of evidence and witnesses, focusing on one question in particular: what was the condition of Europe at the verge of a new millennium? Mak’s rare double talent as a sharp-eyed journalist and a knowledgeable and imaginative historian makes In Europe a compelling account of that journey. He speaks to hundreds of eyewitnesses, including prominent figures like Richard von Weizsäcker, Ruud Lubbers and the grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II as well as unknowns such as Adrinana Warno in Poland, with her holiday job at the gates of the camp at Birkenau, and Monica Angulo in Guernica, who describes the dilemma of the Basque country.

As he travels, Mak reads the evidence of history in diaries, including the dramatic account of Victor Klemperer’s life and Count Harry Kessler’s worldly entries. He reads about the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900 in newspaper reports that promise their readers a new century of light, and the memoirs of soldiers who served in the trenches of Flanders Fields less than fifteen years later.

But Mak is above all an observer. He describes what he sees at places that have become Europe’s well-springs of memory, where history is written into the landscape. At Ypres he hears the blast of munitions from the Great War that are still detonated there twice a day. In Warsaw he finds the point where the tram rails that led to the Jewish ghetto come to a dead end in a city park. And in an abandoned crèche near Chernobyl, where tiny pairs of shoes still stand in neat rows, he is transported back to the moment time stood still in the dying days of the Soviet Union.

Mak combines the larger story of twentieth-century Europe with details that suddenly give it a face, a taste and a smell. His unique approach makes the reader an eyewitness to his own half-forgotten past, full of unknown peculiarities, sudden insights and touching encounters. In Europe helps Europeans discover the past that truly unites them.

The Press on My Father’s Century:
Mak has written a book that could be described as popularizing, but only in the most positive sense of the world. It makes history truly accessible, for everyone.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

A miracle of narrative art.

NRC Handelsblad

Translations

Geert Mak

Geert Mak is one of the Netherlands’ most popular writers and all his books become huge best-sellers: De engel van Amsterdam (The Angel of Amsterdam, 1992), Een kleine geschiedenis van Amsterdam (Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the City, 1994), Hoe God verdween uit Jorwerd (Jorwerd: The Death of the…

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Details

In Europa. Reizen door de twintigste eeuw (2004). Non-fiction, 1223 pages.
Copies sold: 350,000

with references

Themes: Europe

Publisher

Atlas

Prinsengracht 911-915
NL - 1017 KD Amsterdam
Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 524 98 00
Fax: +31 20 627 68 51

E-mail:
atlas@uitgeverijatlas.nl
Website:
http://www.uitgeverijatlas.nl

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