De weg der historie

By J. Dek

After reading 1633 I suddenly realized that I, in fact, knew hardly a thing about Dutch history. It isn’t taught in schools any more, because history now has to be a fun thing children can relate to, about common people and their life. Nothing wrong with that; but the events that have created the nation I have to live in have some importance too. So, what does someone who needs a quick primer in his national history do?

He ambles over the to the shelves, grabs an old schoolbook, one that dates from 1951, starts reading and hopes that it delivers the goods. Because lists of battles and kings was exactly what I needed — and this book did deliver.

And you know what’s funny? The exercises given at the end of each chapter are to the point and lead to some degree of insight in the course of history. Another interesting thing is to see what’s changed in the perception of the past. For instance, already in 1951, the history books were quite honest about the black pages in Dutch colonial history, it seems. But the second world war was still very close, and there is none of the revisionism that fills the newspaper columns today. And the last paragraph is positively frightening:

In bange spanning wacht de wereld af, of er een derde wereldoorlog zal uitbreken.

All in all, a better book, with more information and better illustrations than the far more expensive, four-colour illustrated, side-barred monstrosity that was my lot. And I strongly suspect that this book was for primary school pupils…