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In Europa reizen door de twintigste eeuw by…
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In Europa reizen door de twintigste eeuw (edition 2007)

by Geert Mak

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1,157357,029 (4.22)51
Member:Lunarreader
Title:In Europa reizen door de twintigste eeuw
Authors:Geert Mak
Info:Amsterdam Atlas 2007
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:12 in 12 challenge, Europe, history, Jews, the East, snapshots

Work details

In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century by Geert Mak

  1. 10
    Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century by Tony Judt (marieke54)
  2. 10
    Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 by Tony Judt (marieke54)
  3. 00
    Des gens très bien by Alexandre Jardin (jodocus)
    jodocus: Voor wie zich -net als Mak- afvraagt hoe het kan dat Frankrijk, met zijn Vichy-verleden- alom als overwinnaar en "goed" in de oorlog wordt gezien. Jardin beschrijft hoe hij de (familie)mythe rond zijn grootvader, een hoge Vichy-ambtenaar, voor zichzelf ontmaskert.… (more)
  4. 00
    Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower (marieke54)
  5. 00
    The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914 by Philipp Blom (gust)
  6. 00
    De passage naar Europa : geschiedenis van een begin by Luuk van Middelaar (gust)
  7. 00
    Europeana: A Brief History Of The Twentieth Century (Eastern European Literature) by Patrik Ouředník (gust)
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» See also 51 mentions

English (20)  Dutch (14)  French (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Recommended for everybody interested in Europe ( )
  hste2011 | May 17, 2014 |
This is an awe-inspiring book. The author spent 1999 traveling around Europe looking to understand and tell its common history. What does someone from Stockholm have in common with someone from rural Poland, or the coast of Portugal? Beginning in Amsterdam at the dawn of the twentieth century, and winding up in December of 1999 in Sarajevo, Mak draws together the disparate threads of each country's history, into a broad picture of what has made Europe what it is today. I loved this massive book. It pulled together all those bits and pieces I've acquired through the years, from classes, newspapers, articles and books, and showed me where they belongs in the bigger picture.

Mak travels from place to place, centering each chapter on both a location and an event from the twentieth century. He talks to and looks at both ordinary people and those at the center of great events. He looks at how an event is both influenced by what had happened before and how it, in turn, shapes what occurs later. He looks at those obvious pivotal moments, like those fatal shots fired by Gavrilo Princip on the quayside in Sarajevo, as well as more obscure things like what happened to Jean McConville of West Belfast. The great moments are made personal by telling the story of someone caught up in it all, whether the son of a former ruler or a young mother trying to keep her family safe.

I had to read this book slowly. It is thick with connections and how the hurried decisions of a government can affect the lives of ordinary people forever. It was also an emotionally wrenching book. I'm not sure how he did it, but Mak managed to make both troop movements and strategical decisions intertwine with how that would have been experienced by an ordinary soldier or a civilian watching his house burn.

Geert Mak is Dutch, and so a little removed from the patriotic tales woven into the lives of the citizens of great powers. He was able to look at one side of a conflict then drive on a few miles and look at that conflict from the other side. He doesn't look to find bad guys or good guys, but to find out why people acted as they did, on imperfect information influenced by their own histories.

I'm a little sorry I've finally finished On Europe, but I'm looking forward to deepening my understanding of Europe's last century as well as someday rereading this book. ( )
9 vote RidgewayGirl | Dec 4, 2013 |
Stylish, intelligent, thoughtful, cleverly organised, and eminently readable. In 800 pages, even though he's mostly going over very familiar ground, he never stops being interesting and engaging: the mix of travel and history works very well.

On the other hand, this is an unremittingly negative, pessimistic view of European history in the 20th century. Basically, the bad stuff gets 797 pages and the positive 3. And even there he is inclined to quibble whether they really count as positive things. It's an understandable approach: after all, we Europeans have done a lot of unspeakable things to each other in the course of the century (Mak doesn't even discuss the terrible things Europeans did to people outside Europe). In a book like this, you have to deal with war, genocide, deportation and all the rest. But I wonder if it's really necessary to deal with it to the exclusion of all else? ( )
  thorold | May 26, 2013 |
A good if overlong book. A well delivered millenial journalist project. Geert Mak, a Dutch journalist and historian, had the idea of touring Europe in the run up to the year 2000 to review the continent's century. He has produced something that is not quite history and not quite journalism but worthwhile nevertheless. He visits cities and towns in which major elements of Europe's twentieth century history were shaped. The two world wars, the great slump of the 30's, the rise of the European Union and the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European bloc are all covered. He doesn't attempt to tell us anything new but in typical journalist fashion does his best to personalise events by talking to people he meets whether old friends or new acquaintances. Interesting for me, a UK resident, to see European history through the eyes of a Dutchman and surprising to find that it is much as I had expected.

Mr Mak does well to bring history to life by focusing on the personal but at the end and again in typical journalistic fashion he is too keen to interpret today's events as the precursor to tomorrow's history. He fails to put things into the longer context by his concentration on the present.

The book was written at the turn of the century with a short epilogue in a new edition for 2006. At the time he, like a lot of people, saw only the success of the EU and the introduction of the euro. He foresaw problems in taking the European project further but he did not anticipate the financial crisis and with it the renewed potential for the old European fault lines to reappear. ( )
  Steve38 | Mar 22, 2013 |
This is a major work of history masquerading as journalism and travel writing. Mak took a year to travel around Europe, following up the key events of the Twentieth Century, and often spoke to people who were either directly involved, or whose perspective gave them direct access to the times, personalities and places involved.

This approach is fresh and immediate, though reading the book in 2012 does rather make one aware that it is itself already a work of history. When Mak writes fairly positively about the birth of the Euro, for example, it's hard not to allow oneself a wry smile at what his future held in store.

To a British reader, perhaps the major strength of this book is the sense of "otherness" that comes from it not taking an Anglo-American perspective on events. The first person reportage drives home the fact that Britain is (politically, at least) "in" Europe, but does not feel itself to be "of" Europe. Mak's Dutch perspective is valuable and refreshing here. This book gives the ordinary reader a very clear view of what lies behind the European project, and it is clear that Mak feels European unity and peace to be the important outcomes of the historical process that unfolds before our eyes.

At the end of the book, Mak writes at length about the disintegration of Yugoslavia. His analysis is particularly telling on the role of the Dutch UN peacekeeping troops in Srebrenica; some US and British readers might be a bit surprised at the reaction of the French UN commanders and their assessment of how they might have behaved under those circumstances. Again, this may say more about the narrowness of the mid-Atlantic view of Europe and its people than the French attitudes towards themseves.

The book ends with some conclusions about the future direction of Europe, with the differing perspectives and objectives of the original member states of the EEC compared to the more recent accession states (mainly those from Eastern Europe). Again, from the point of view of ten years on, Mak's conclusion - that of the likelihood of a twin-track, twin-speed Europe - looks more likely. Perhaps this knowledge of the final objective of the European project has been commonly held and known throughout Europe all this time, and the British never had anyone admit it in plain words of one syllable before. If that be so, then this book is even more important that it at first might seem for Anglophone readers.

The translation is pretty much flawless; proof-reading and sub-editing less so. ( )
  RobertDay | Jul 19, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Geert Makprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garrett, SamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap, HesterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A man sets out to chart the world.  Through the years, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses and people.  Shortly before his death he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the images of his own face.  
- Jorge Luis Borges
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When I left Amsterdam on Monday morning 4th January 1999, a storm was rampaging through the town.
Prologue:  No one in the village had ever seen the sea - except for the Dutch people.
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Book description
Het langverwachte, nieuwe boek (meer dan duizend pagina's!) van de auteur van de bestsellers Hoe God verdween uit Jorwert en De eeuw van mijn vader. Geert Mak vertelt over 'In Europa':
'Begin 1999 verliet ik Amsterdam voor een reis door Europa die een vol jaar zou duren. Het was een soort laatste inspectie: hoe lag het continent erbij, aan het eind van de twintigste eeuw?
Maar het was ook een historische reis; ik volgde letterlijk de sporen van de geschiedenis, door de eeuw en door het continent, beginnend in januari, bij de resten van de Parijse Wereldtentoonstelling en het bruisende Wenen, eindigend in december, in de ruïnes van Sarajevo.
Dat hele jaar reisde ik zo met de eeuw mee, in een krakeling van routes, langs Londen, Volgograd en Madrid, langs de bunkers van Berlijn, de geparfumeerde kleerkasten van Helena Ceausescu in Boekarest en de speelgoedautos in een verlaten crèche in Tsernobyl.
En ik praatte met de getuigen: met schrijvers en politici, met verzetsmensen en hoge officieren, met een boer in de Pyreneeën en met de kleinzoon van de Duitse keizer, tientallen Europeanen die hun verhaal op tafel legden.
Dit reisverslag gaat over het verleden, en wat het verleden met ons doet. Het gaat over verscheurdheid en onwetendheid, over historie en angst, over armoede en hoop, over alles wat ons nieuwe Europa scheidt en bindt
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307280578, Paperback)

From the First World War to the waning days of the Cold War, a poignant exploration on what it means to be European at the end of the twentieth-century. Geert Mak crisscrosses Europe from Verdun to Berlin, Saint Petersburg to Srebrenica in search of evidence and witnesses of the last hundred years of Europe. Using his skills as an acclaimed journalist, Mak locates the smaller, personal stories within the epic arc of history-talking to a former ticket-taker at the gates of the Birkenau concentration camp or noting the neat rows of tiny shoes in the abandoned nursery school in the shadow of Chernobyl. His unique approach makes the reader an eyewitness to a half-forgotten past, full of unknown peculiarities, sudden insights and touching encounters. Sweeping in scale, but intimate in detail In Europe is a masterpiece.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Journalist Mak spent the year of 1999 criss-crossing the continent, tracing the history of Europe from Verdun to Berlin, Saint Petersburg to Auschwitz, Kiev to Srebrenica, looking to define the condition of Europe on the cusp of a new millennium. In the voices of prominent figures and unknown players, Mak combines the larger story of twentieth-century Europe with details that give it a face, a taste and a smell.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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