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Is progress always a good thing, or is modernity destroying those social values that once underpinned all our lives?
Using the Friesian village of Jorwerd as an example, Geert Mak discovers a neighborliness and a sense of community that no longer exist in urban life, portraying ancient families struggling to preserve their long-established modus vivendi in a world obsessed with money and profit. He has tea with the butcher's wife, drops into the pub for a beer with locals, and recounts the stirring story of Old Peet, a farmhand who was born, lived, and died in Jorwerd. Such people are an extinct species in the new free market and, with their passing, the village they lived in moved a step along the road of terminal decline.
By interweaving the colorful stories of Frieslanders with the wider history of the world, Mak provides us with an unsentimental portrayal of the pleasures and hardships of living in the country, while at the same time illustrating how rural life everywhere has been affected by a diaspora to cities and other countries (particularly in the case of Friesland to North America and Canada), and is under threat from the modern world.
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