Geert Mak

Geert Ludzer Mak (born 4 December 1946 in Vlaardingen) is a Dutch journalist and a non-fiction writer in the field of history. His ten books about Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Europe have earned him great popularity. His best-known work, In Europe, a combination of a travelogue through the continent of Europe and a history of the 20th century, has appeared in over a dozen languages.

Geert Ludzer Mak
BornGeert Mak
(1946-12-04) 4 December 1946
Vlaardingen, Netherlands
Notable worksIn Europa
SpouseMietsie Mak
Children2 daughters


In 1968, he was arrested for publishing a pamphlet in a student paper with the heading "Johnson oorlogsmisdadiger volgens de normen van Tokio en Neurenberg." ("Johnson war criminal according to the norms of Tokyo and Nuremberg."), referring to the Vietnam War that reached its peak during Johnson's presidency. Mak was accused of "insulting a friendly head of state", likely under American pressure due to the Cold War. He faced harsh sentences, including three weeks in jail, but ended up only having to pay 200 guilders.[1]

Personal life

Mak is married to Mietsie Ruiters. He has two step-children and five grandchildren.[2]

Reception of In Europe

In Europe was the best-selling book by a Dutch author in the Netherlands in 2004, selling over 400,000 copies. The British reviews were generally enthusiastic, although for the professional historian or political scientist the book has little to offer: “In Europe hardly breaks new ground historically” writes Martin Woollacott in an otherwise positive review in The Guardian.[3]

Mak himself sees his work as journalism. In an interview with a Dutch journalism trade-journal he says: “my approach is journalistic. My books are filled with newspaper tricks”. Historians are generally cautious when it comes to judging Mak’s work. Hermann von der Dunk, emeritus professor of history at Utrecht University, said about Mak: “it is well written, and historically correct, but it is not what I would call academic history. There is no analysis of historical development”.[4]

A 35-part VPRO television series based on In Europe prompted some historians to point to errors and comment that the makers were ill-informed about current debates in the field of history.[5]


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