Jorwerd: The Death of the Village in Late Twentieth-Century Europe

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9781860468032: Jorwerd: The Death of the Village in Late Twentieth-Century Europe
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Born in Friesland himself, Geert Mak has returned to his roots to explore the "silent revolution" that took place in the small village of Jorwerd, Friesland, after World War II. He lived in Jorwerd for six months, gathering the personal stories of Jorwerters past and present, many of whom were born, lived and died there. By interweaving their colourful stories with the wider history of Europe, Mak provides an unsentimental portrayal of the pleasures and the hardships of living in the country, while illustrating at the same time how rural life everywhere is under threat from the modern world.

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About the Author:

Geert Mak is a journalist and historian, and the internationally acclaimed author of In Europe, Amsterdam and The Bridge. He is one of the Netherlands' bestselling authors, has twice been awarded Historian of the Year and his books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

From Publishers Weekly:

"Real storytelling is a gift; an almost forgotten talent," says Mak, a Netherlands journalist, as he conveys how a farming community used the oral tradition, "the literature of the poor and unseen," to preserve its history. In this study of a small village in the northern Netherlands, Mak describes the demise of this tradition as a part of the vast cultural transformation that has taken place from 1945 to the present. From the 650 people who lived in Jorwerd in 1900, speaking the Frisian rather than the Dutch language, the population has fallen to 330. Farming as a way of life has been dramatically altered by mechanization, and the resulting increased productivity led to quotas set by the government, which restricted, for example, the amount of milk a dairy farmer could produce. This policy had a negative impact on small farming families. The interviews Mak conducted with Jorwerd's residents, for whom he obviously has a great deal of affection, make clear that the centuries-old bond between the farmer and his land has also been eroded. Progress has brought development and newcomers to Jorwerd. This influx of city people who have come to enjoy rural life has also changed the town's social mores, formerly based on traditional family values. Although the author recognizes the oppressiveness inherent in small villages, he mourns the ebbing sense of community that held them together. Mak's study of Jorwerd is a mirror for other countries where farming life is on the wane.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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