The Little History of The Hague for Dummies

The Little History of The Hague for Dummies

Adding to the Dummies franchise of books is a new historical reference guide to The Hague. Written by Leon van der Hulst and translated by Barbara Stuart, A Little History of The Hague for Dummies is a pocket book of 159 pages encompassing 6,000 years of life in the political capital of the Netherlands. Despite its size, it adheres to the traditional Dummies format with the familiar icons and concluding with a list of 10 interesting facts. History books usually read like storybooks. They are, after all, a tale of events that have taken place over long periods of time. The For Dummies reference guides generally target an audience seeking a basic understanding of a topic. As such, The Little History of The Hague for Dummies is successful in highlighting all major developments in the city’s history. The chapters are short and include interesting tidbits on local people and topics that enhance the reading experience. The downside of this book is that the disjointed structure and paucity of information makes it difficult to get a clear grasp on the themes and events that have taken place. Adding to the confusion is the repetition of some details, the fact that the kings had the same name (different number), and the sheer mass of the significant events that demand inclusion but are restricted in length to a few short sentences. It is all in the reading Nevertheless, while a tourist guide will give descriptions about specific buildings, this book provides an opportunity to dive a little deeper into The Hague by offering some historical facts about what happened within its boundaries. A good example is the Huis ten Bosch which was built in 1645 and currently one of the official residences of the Dutch royal family. It has, the book informs the reader, been home to King Louis Napolean and stadthouders Frederik Hendrik, Willem IV and V – and has functioned as a summerhouse, prison, brothel and museum. (p.151) A little summary The Little History of The Hague for Dummies is a pocket size guide to the history of the city. For readers who love their history books, it will whet your appetite to learn more. Tourists will attain a deeper understanding of the city using the guide then possible from travel guidebooks. And for the non-Dutch reader living in the Netherlands, the book will equip you with sufficient knowledge to participate in many discussions about the city without sounding like a total twit. Ana McGinley  More >




Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam restaurant reviews, seasonal recipe suggestions and all the latest culinary news from a local foodie. More >



A Wanderlust For Life

A Wanderlust For Life

An American expat blogging about life in Amsterdam while traveling around the country and throughout Europe. More >



Invading Holland

Invading Holland

The adventures of an accident-prone English man who arrived in the Netherlands in 2001 for a six month stay. More >


A Flamingo In Utrecht

A Flamingo In Utrecht

A lighthearted look at bits of history, culture and daily life as seen through the eyes of a woman from the U.S. More >



24 Oranges

24 Oranges

Dutch things pressed for your pleasure: oddball Dutch news and photographs. More >


Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

I try to create a relationship with this mysterious city. I love it and can’t get enough of it. More >




Quiet Amsterdam

Now here's an idea. Why not write a book about quiet, reflective little nooks in one of Europe's most vibrant and bustling little cities? What might sound like a dull excuse for a tourist guide, is actually an understated stroke of genius from an expat resident just looking for a spot of tranquility, in a tiny city with a reported four million visitors a year. Siobhan Wall, author of Quiet Amsterdam, has penned an elegant little Baedeker inviting readers to seek out over one hundred idyllic and rarely-seen places, in and around Amsterdam. Although the chapters list all the usual tourist necessities such as restaurants, museums, parks and so on, each place has been specially chosen for its peaceful qualities. This is unlikely to be of much interest to first timers visiting the capital, who will want to see all the usual stuff you associate with Amsterdam, but for long-time residents and natives, this offers something unique, and a novel way to explore some interesting and little-known corners of the city. As with anything Dutch there are a few quirky inclusions, such as the Schipol Airport Meditation Room (free entry with any valid airline ticket once you get through the security checkpoint), and my personal favourite, Spa Zuider, where nakedness is strictly enforced everyday throughout the year, except on Tuesdays. Everywhere mentioned in this charming and delightful little book is within a 45 minute bus, tram or cycle ride from Centraal Station. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl shelleyantscherl@me.com  More >


Uit Kijk Punten/ Scenic Points Amsterdam

If you'Ž“ve ever stood on top of a building looking out over a big city and wondered what you can see in the distance then Uit Kijk Punten might tickle your fancy. Eelco van Geene and Marijke Mooy have created an alternative guide book that instead of leading you around the city at ground level, views Amsterdam from above and nicely presents it in photographs. Uit Kijk Punten shows panoramic shots of the Amsterdam skyline in every direction from 30 different vantage points around the city like Westerkerk, Centraal Station and even Schiphol Airport (!), and all the main landmarks and interesting sights are indicated on the horizon. Each photo is accompanied with practical information in Dutch and English, ensuring it appeals to residents and tourists alike and _Ž•Visitor info_Ž“ includes transport advice, entry costs, wheelchair access (or lack of it) and nearby refreshment outlets. An especially nice touch is the photography tip for amateur snappers on every page. At just over 200 pages and A5 size, Uit Kijk Punten is quite chunky, but it'Ž“s still small enough to fit in a rucksack and it makes a refreshing change to traditional fact-laden and touristy city guides. And if you enjoy photography, then this provides a new and unorthodox view of the capital. If you'Ž“ve lived here for years or you think you'Ž“ve seen everything in Amsterdam then Uit Kijk Punten offers a great opportunity to explore this wonderful little city from a whole new panoramic perspective. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Colonel Baxter’s Dutch Safari

Cartoonist and artist Glen Baxter was first published in the Netherlands 40 years ago. Now he's back with a collection of absurdist drawings covering all things Dutch - from herring and tulips to Mondriaan and Rietveld chairs. Dutch funnyman Wim de Bie, who curates the Glen Baxter Museum, provides the introduction to this slim volume of full-colour drawings and wry comments. In particular, Baxter seems to have it in for Rietveld's famous chair - which is eaten by beavers, turned into a method of execution and a bidet. The humour is gentle and barbed at the same while the little Delft tiles sketched on opposing pages contain some hidden gems. Buy this book  More >


Whipped Cream Architecture

It might sound like an odd title, but once you read the first few paragraphs it makes perfect sense. Whipped cream is a book of photography with a few pages of information about the origins of the white painted stone 'wigs' that grace the gables of the grachtenpanden (canal houses) in Amsterdam. If the subject matter floats your boat and you are curious about, or interested in the history of Holland_Ž“s distinct architectural style then this is likely to appeal. Whipped cream is a nicely presented glossy picture book without being ostentatious, and a perfectly respectable addition to any Dutch coffee table collection. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between

Born in the UK to American parents, O’Shaughnessy has lived, been educated, explored and worked in more than 90 countries. His experiences are incorporated into Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between providing humorous personal anecdotes to explain the issues frequently experienced by expat kids relocating to new countries as dictated by the jobs of one or both parents. Specifically the book looks at what it is to be a Third Culture Kid (TCK), Cross Culture Kid (CCK) and Invisible Alien. Definitions are provided with reference to earlier work by Ruth van Reken, Dr Ruth Hill Useem and David C. Pollock. In short, all three labels refer to children who have grown up outside their parents own culture in temporarily adopted countries – and as a result have an ambiguous national or cultural self-identity. Chapter One opens with a tale of self identity resilience in the face of opposing pressure from others and the identity they have of you. In this specific childhood example, O’Shaughnessy believed he was a robot – a fact confirmed by static electricity in his bed-sheets. When confronted with the fact that he was not a robot - rather 'just normal, nothing special' (p5) he felt a sense of disappointment akin to the response many expat children feel on registering that their foreign-ness in a new school environment does not make them special with their peers. In the following seven chapters, O’Shaughnessy covers the implications of being TCK and CCK on personality development (adaptability, confidence), social relationships (guardedness, fitting in, conflict management), future directions (being rootless and restless), feelings of grief and loss, and the benefits of having a wider understanding of cultures, languages and global communities. Each chapter ends with a list of the points covered and references included in the text. The reader can also access additional information by scanning quick response barcodes found throughout the book with their smart phones. As a verified TCK, adult global citizen, and travel adventure addict - Chris O’Shaughnessy has the prerequisite credentials to write about the experience of growing up as an expat child. His personal stories are hilarious examples of the educational information he is presenting. Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between is a highly recommended read for anyone who has taken up the exciting challenge of becoming a global citizen with kids in tow. Further, for adults who were raised globally and now hesitate when asked questions like ‘where are you from?’ or ‘where do you consider home?’ - this book will not give you the answers, but it will help explain your hesitation. Ana McGinley  More >


Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style

Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style is an anthology of expat essays written by 27 smart, sassy and observant women, who have all relocated to the Netherlands.   This collection of 49 essays, technically blog posts, details their personal experiences and observations gathered while attempting to find a place in Dutch society. The essays are arranged under 12 topics including - Culture Shock; Eating and Shopping; Biking; the Dutch Language; Working in the Netherlands; Marrying a Dutchie; Having Babies; Raising Your Kids; ending with, Leaving the Netherlands. For many expats, this arrangement is a familiar and logical transition through the Dutch expat experience. Essentially this is a book for women by women. The bloggers originate from different parts of the world and this influences how they experience what is going on around them. A good example can be found in the essay: How High Do Parents Raise the Bar (Lana Kristine Jelenev), with the author frustrated by an educational philosophy and program that many foreigners see as teaching children to be complacent with “voldoende” (or good enough) rather than encouraging children to push themselves to try and do their best (p82). This is a common topic frequently discussed by new expat parents sending their children to Dutch schools. Similarly, being considered a prostitute by staff at your Dutch doctor's surgery because you have followed recommendations in your home country and had an annual pap smear examination makes: That’s a Helluva Exam for a very funny essay. (Molly Quell) Overall, this collection of essays about life in the Netherlands will resonate with many readers. Growing in popularity are expat blogs, books and magazines as the number of people becoming ‘global citizens’ increase. Reading the experiences of other expats, such as in Dutch Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style promotes acceptance that the unfamiliar and strange experiences that shake the confidence of new expat residents, are just part of the process of settling in to your new Dutch home. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


Sammy’s Next Move

Sammy the snail is none too chuffed when his parents announce they are moving to Japan. He'Ž“s only just got used to living in Italy and he'Ž“s really going to miss his playmates, so the prospect of having to make new friends in yet another country is distressing and upsetting. But thankfully young Sammy iŽ“s an accomplished traveller and when his mum reminds him about their previous postings and how much he'Ž“s enjoyed living in different countries, he warms to the idea of moving again. Sammy'Ž“s Next Move is written by seasoned expat and mother of two Helen Maffini and tells the story of what it feels like to be a Third Culture Kid, in a way that children will identify with. It'Ž“s a simple tale, engagingly written and very nicely illustrated and at less than 20 pages long, it's ideal bedtime reading for children and their parents. With two pages of tips and project ideas for parents of TCKs, this is the perfect little book for any expat child about to embark on a new adventure. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl  More >


Holland Flowering

Holland Flowering – How the Dutch Flower Industry Conquered the World is a new book by Andrew Gebhardt and published by Amsterdam University Press (2014). As the title suggests, the book focuses on the Dutch flower industry, specifically FloraHolland, and the influence the industry has had both locally and internationally. Andrew Gebhardt is an American writer based in Amsterdam. With an obvious deep fascination for the flower industry, Gebhardt tackles the subject matter from all angles: including the anthropology of cut flowers, the early beginnings of the Dutch flower horticulture business and its growth into an international flower-selling business, and the effects on other countries and cultures resulting from the globalisation of the Dutch flower industry. FloraHolland Primarily, this book is centred on FloraHolland and its Aalsmeer-based auction house. Integral to this research are the author's interviews with numerous staff members at all levels of this organisation. While the facts and figures present a dry description of the organisation, quotes from these interviews permit an insider’s view into the working environment of FloraHolland. One interviewee describes the industry as: 'Not only white and male and all that: there are a lot of religious people, too. There’s a bedrijfsgebed, a company prayer, along with daily news items, that appears in people’s inboxes.' (p255) Nasty Weeds From a wider perspective, the book investigates flower plantations in Africa and South America which are also reliant on FloraHolland to sell their produce. These plantations are often Dutch-owned - and sometimes staffed by locals paid less than the daily minimum wage to work in harsh conditions. It reeks a little of former Dutch colonialism. Other unsavory topics involve market competition seemingly controlled by Dutch airlines increasing freight costs for growers outside the Netherlands, or Schiphol refusing landing rights to airlines offering cheaper freight to these growers. Tying together the ends Holland Flowering is a difficult book to categorise, being a mix of history, interviews and social commentary. The introduction is a long ramble covering 45 pages and giving little clue to what argument the author is going to follow in the ensuing pages. A lack of headings and paragraphs often results in the reader becoming lost in the text. Distracting, albeit extremely interesting subjects like sodomy on board VOC ships (p258), further detract the flow of the text and the reader's understanding of the central subject matter. Yet undoubtedly, flowers continue to bring beauty into the lives of many people. Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and dinner invitations are marked with the giving of flowers, so guaranteeing the continued longevity of the flower industry. Reading Holland Flowering offers an insight into the industry that drives these flower-giving traditions. Buy this book  Ana McGinley  More >


Gliding Flight

Anne-Gine Goemans is a journalist and teacher of journalism to college students in Utrecht. Her career as a novelist began in 2008 with the publication of Ziekzoekers (Unfurrowed Ground), a book that grabbed the public’s attention when awarded the Anton Wachterprijs for best debut novel. Four years later, Goemans second novel Glijvlucht won the Dioraphte Youth Literature Prize and the German M. Pionier Award for new literary talent. The film rights were sold and the book added to the curriculum in some Dutch secondary schools.  In 2015 Glijvlucht was translated into English by Nancy Forest-Flier for World Editions and published under the title Gliding Flight. Cutting to the goose chase Gliding Flight is the story of 14-year-old Gieles who lives with his father and uncle in an isolated area along a runway, a landing strip for the local airport. This setting is instrumental to the narrative – uniting the supporting characters by being a source of constant tension to the unfolding storyline. The story opens with Gieles seeking advice on the best method to teach his two geese how to fly. He does this secretly as his father is responsible for ensuring that geese and other birds do not become a hazard to planes by venturing too close to the runway. Hence, Gieles would have his geese confiscated should his father discover that they were able to fly. Further Gieles is an avid fan of ornithologist Christian Moullec and pilot captain Scully who successfully landed his plane after geese had damaged the engines. Additional characters include Gieles’ mother Ellen who is on a mission to help people in Africa; Super Waling, an obese ex-history teacher, whose own family history tells the Dutch story of human hardship as men worked to reclaim land by building polders; Mieke, the gothic girl Gieles initially meets on the internet before leaving her family to live with Gieles and his family; Tony, the sadistic school friend; and Dolly, young widow, single parent, beautician and critic of everything. Flying in formation This novel contains multiple themes beginning with the analogy between teaching geese to fly and gain independence and teenagers struggling to learn essential life skills required to become independent adults. Other themes encompass Ellen’s need to be involved in saving humans in Africa, while leaving her own family to fend for themselves; obesity as a disability; first loves; cancer; innate tendency towards violence in some humans; and the war against industrial development in rural townships. The smooth incorporation of these themes in the narrative clearly highlights the authors’ literary talents. Gliding Flight is an enjoyable read with captivating characters, well-paced plot, and the right amount of tension to keep the pages turning. Highly recommended. Ana McGinley  More >


Expat Women: Confessions

Expatriating to a new country is exciting, but it can also be daunting. If you are about to embark on your first trip as a 'trailing spouse', then you could probably do with some reassurance from someone who knows the ropes. In case you don't meet that 'someone' immediately, a copy of Expat Women: Confessions, will make an excellent first companion. Expat Women: Confessions, 50 Answers to your Real-Life Questions about Living Abroad, is the brainchild of Andrea Martins & Victoria Hepworth who are also the founders of the website of the same name. Confessions is presented in a question and answer format and focuses on the most common problems faced by expat women every day. Issues like dealing with loneliness and coping with the loss of professional identity, as well as the more serious problems of alcoholism, domestic violence and infidelity are all dealt with sensitively. Both authors are seasoned expats in their own right, as well as expat wives with children, and with the benefit of their combined experience, each question is answered constructively, providing practical advice and information along the way. A comprehensive Resources section includes an invaluable list of books and websites for the rookie, or veteran expat alike. There isn't much that Andrea Martins & Victoria Hepworth don't know about relocating worldwide and Expat Women: Confessions is their latest gift to the expat sisterhood. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >