Geert Mak

Geert Mak (b. 1946) is one of the Netherlands’ most popular writers. His books have been translated into 22 languages.


Well-known English titles include Amsterdam, My Father’s Century, In Europe, In America: Travels with Steinbeck, and The Many Lives of Jan Six. He has won wide critical acclaim in the interna­tional press and numerous awards, including the Leipziger Buchpreis and the Prins Bernhard Prize. A television series based on Great Expectations will air on Dutch television, radio and online in the autumn of 2019.

More Geert Mak

Geert Mak

My Father’s Century

Three Mak generations span the twentieth century. They are the subject of a family chronicle by Geert Mak, and at the same time a history of the past hundred years. The generation of his grandfather, a sailmaker, entered the twentieth century with what was still an unshaken faith in the traditional order; his own generation emerged from it in the belief that all established values and truths rest on shaky foundations. The generation of his father, a Calvinist clergyman, marked the pivot on which our century tipped over. In this lovingly written family history, the past hundred years are brought palpably close.

Geert Mak

The Lives of Jan Six

In 1586, Jan Six’s Huguenot grandfather fled persecution in France with his family for Amsterdam. By the time Jan was born, the family had risen to prominence and wealth through the success of their cloth-dyeing works and the spectacular growth in the cloth trade. Jan built on the family fortune and became a major patron of the arts during the Golden Age. His extensive art collection included the portrait that his friend Rembrandt painted in 1654, a painting which is still considered one of Rembrandt’s best. Mak tells the story of the Six family and the city of Amsterdam through their major collection of paintings, complementing them with other unique sources: Jan Six’s notebook containing recipes, anecdotes, religious reflections to dirty jokes; the Kleine Pandora, Jan’s album amicorum, containing work by the poet Joost van den Vondel (considered the Dutch Shakespeare) and drawings by Rembrandt; and the many manuscripts which Jan collected throughout his long life. Later descendants of the Six family became burgomasters and scientists, they amassed great riches and lost them. Geert Mak examined everything kept by the Sixes – four centuries’ worth of letters, diaries and shopping lists, right down to their ball books – and has worked it all into the history of the Sixes, this Amsterdam Buddenbrooks-type dynasty avant la lettre. All this against the background of Amsterdam’s Golden Age, its ambitions and limitations, grandeur and the ever- present fear of decline.

Geert Mak

Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the City

This book is intended for visitors, tourists and native Amsterdammers who want to learn more about the city’s roots, without having to dive into comprehensive historical tomes. Its compactness alone makes 'Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the City' unique. The book is structured around specific events, people and, sometimes, houses. The author uses these particulars to tell a larger story and give a broader perspective. Mak set off on foot through Amsterdam, his own city. As he walked he observed and took notes, collecting the stories that ‘are lying on your own doorstep’ – for those who want to see and hear them.

Geert Mak

Great Expectations

'While In Europe' (2004) covered the tumultuous 20th century and the legacy of the two world wars, Great Expectations takes stock of the early 21st century. Mak turns his keen eye to the controversial roll-out of the euro, the impact of terrorism, the evaporation of European optimism, post-communist life in Eastern Europe and Russia, the financial crisis, the transatlantic relationship, northern versus southern Europe, and the refugees.

Part ofNon-Fiction
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