Willard Libby, Hessel de Vries, and the Poles of Saint Walburga

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The revelations of an ex-libris I think all buyers of used books know about this: finding an ex-libris or other relics in them, left there by the previous owner. I have found old receipts, notes apologizing for the late return of the book, photographs, and even devotional pictures in old … Continue reading

About the Dutch National Book Week and the Horrors of an Oral Examination

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Yesterday marked the start of the traditional Dutch Book Week, an event to promote buying books. To start things off, all writers of a certain name and fame met for drinks and dances at “The Book Ball”, leaving the ones that were not invited grudging about why they had to … Continue reading

Cats, Old Deuteronomy, …and Sugar Coated Anti-Semitism?!

Cats, Old Deuteronomy and… Sugar Coated Antisemitism?

I have a few confessions to make… The first one being that I’m slightly intoxicated while writing this. I know it’s still only Tuesday at the moment, but my week has started off so much more hectic than I anticipated and I just really needed a drink. When I started … Continue reading

Felix Von Luckner: The Life and Times of a Sea-Devil

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One of my visits to a second hand book store rewarded me with a 1923 volume of a book with the imaginative title The Sea-Devil Conquers America. A book written by the German sea-captain Count Felix Von Luckner. A quick peruse of the Wikipedia-entry about Count Von Luckner, aka “The … Continue reading

Maxie and Rosie: A Story of Wishful Thinking

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Every history student knows about those moments when imagination takes over. Of course we should work empirically; every statement should be based on reliable sources. But sometimes it just cannot be avoided that wishful thinking takes over. I experienced one of these moments when I did some research on the … Continue reading

Best Beers and Infected German Women

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Recently a little gem appeared on the German list of non-fiction bestsellers. The book was small and decently priced. But still it was a bit striking to me that it had gained the status of a bestseller. Why? Well, the book is a German translation of the Instruction for British … Continue reading

“Hatch Closed, Monkey Dead”: The Berlin Wall in Propaganda Songs

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The problem with having a social life is that it sometimes prevents you from reading books. On the other hand reading books can prevent you from having a social life. Loving books can be quite the balancing act. Until last Sunday evening I still had no clue what my subject … Continue reading

Cats and Greedy Bastards

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So, if there’s anything to be said about the last cat I discussed, it’s that, according to this stage show, prostitution is BAD. And so is wandering away to seek your own fortune apparently. When talking about vices in this context, we could say that pride is something to be … Continue reading

About Turkish Delight (Turks fruit), a ‘Typically Dutch’ ‘Love Story’, and F-ing Fifty Shades of Grey: A Rant and More

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So about three months ago my Facebook news feed fucking exploded because of this: Fifty Shades of fucking Grey coming out on fucking Valentine’s Day next year, such a perfect date for a movie based on a the first novel of a trilogy that basically romanticizes abuse. For those of … Continue reading