American views on Dutch history

The Atlantic has been publishing since 1857. As a subscriber, I can access their archive, which is full of interesting tidbits. To focus my “plunge into the past,” I queried articles that mentioned Amsterdam and the Netherlands Holland (a far more popular term), and found some really interesting stuff. The links on years go to PDFs.

1876: A Dutch inventor’s pressurized sewerage system (!)

1882: An afternoon in Amsterdam, i.e., rushing to catch the steamship to Zaandam and visiting “the cleanest village in the Netherlands” — later a site of massive chemical pollution.

1918: Dutch Quandries with staying neutral in WWI:

      1. Energy security: It’s hard to stay cold, also insights into the Dutch love for natural gas, post its discovery in the 1960s.
      2. Smuggling banned goods for profit or corruption: Still true with drugs and money laundering.
      3. War. Fight or neutral: Neutrality is hard to maintain, but fighting (WWII) was worse.
      4. Betrayed by USA: Getting pushed around is not new.

1935: A Hans Brinker boyhood (e.g., battling with wooden shoes, falling into canals, etc.

1937: The joy of skating — a tradition that is nearly dead today..

1938: Queen Wilhelmina after 40 years. A fine portrait, with examples like this (on her daughter’s marriage to a German): ‘This is the marriage of my daughter to the man she loves, whom I have found worthy of her love; this is not the marriage of Holland to Germany.’

1948: Holland is back, rebuilding, but they need American help and trade with Germany.

1958: New Europe. A fascinating, extremely well-written account of BENELUX, the steel and coal community, and the EU’s political project.

My one-handed summary: Those who do not know history… are missing a lot of useful wisdom.

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Author: David Zetland

I'm a political-economist from California who now lives in Amsterdam.

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