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As you might have read in the article about my ideal bookshelf I quite enjoyed the book Nederlanders van het eerste uur: het ontstaan van het moderne Nederland 1780-1800  by H.M. Beliën, D. van der Horst & G.J. Setten (eds).

The outline of the book is very simple: by providing short biographies of important people during the following periods: Patriotic Revolution (1780-1787), the Restauration (1787-1795), the Batavian Republic (1795-1806), the Kingdom of Holland (1806-1810), the Annexation (1810-1813) and the Kingdom of the United Netherlands (1813-1830), the authors paint a strong picture of various ways of dealing with the changes of these revolutionary periods by persons of high and low rank.

Because this is a book written by multiple authors and the chapters are most of the time not more than twelve pages long, it is a very readable book and does not silt up in interesting but not useful details. The most prominent people featured in this book, who cover the period in a nice way, are Daendels, King Louis I, King William I, Jonas Daniël Meijer, Johan Valckenaer, Johan van der Cappellen tot den Pol, Keet Mossel, Elie Luzac, Van Maanen, Van Hogendorp and many others.

But, yes there is a but, it sometimes lacks a bit of, in my eyes, standard academic conventions. For example, there is only a ‘for further reading’ section at the end of each chapter but there are no foot- or endnotes nor any bibliography, which I think are pivotal to any work. The reason I am disappointed with this detail is because the authors are quite important people in their fields, such as Niek van Sas, Wyger Velema and Wijnand Mijnhardt, and in my eyes they need to produce a certain amount of quality which is lacking here. On the other hand, this is the only negative remark I have because the book is clearly not intended for specialists and therefore does not need to give an in depth analyses.

All in all this book is a great book for people who want to know more about the revolutionary period in The Netherlands because it covers enough to be engaging but not too much to get too academic.

Beliën, van, H.M., D. van der Horst ed. Nederlanders van het eerste uur: het ontstaan van het moderne Nederland 1780-1830 (Amsterdam 1996).