Skip to main content

History and biography

trans­lated into
  • Cover De man met de panamahoed
    Cover De man met de panamahoed

    Harry Kessler was an intellectual dandy, and politics and art were the focus of his life. He defended the arts from every form of political interference. As an arts patron, lover of males, publisher, thinker and writer, he pledged himself to no one and refused to live according to other people’s expectations.

  • Cover James Ensor
    Cover James Ensor
    James Ensor
    A magnificent style – scholarly but vivid and punchy
    Ons Brussel

    James Ensor (1860–1949) was everything in one: cocky and solitary, baron and bohemian, a misunderstood bourgeois, a peintre maudit who surveyed the world from his ivory tower in Ostend and sought refuge in the salons of Brussels. Min peels away the mask of the mythmaker to create a wonderful portrait of this enigmatic and multi-faceted painter.

  • Cover Napoleon
    Cover Napoleon
    A consummate storyteller. Narrative history of the most fascinating kind

    The French Revolution and Napoleon: two epic, captivating tales from western history brought together in a vibrant and compelling narrative. This revised and expanded edition is the result of working on the French translation, published by Flammarion in 2023.

  • Cover Ik zal alles verdragen, ook mezelf
    Cover Ik zal alles verdragen, ook mezelf
    I Will Endure Everything, Including Myself
    The diary of the ‘Flemish Sartre’, which after reading just one page is impossible to put down.
    NRC Handelsblad

    Leopold Flam (1912-1995) lived for the greater part of his childhood in a cellar in Antwerp. At the age of thirteen, Flam started keeping a diary that was as candid as it was grim. The fact that he managed to lift himself out of the extreme poverty of his early years rates as a minor miracle. The son of beggars eventually became a professor of philosophy. Leopold Flam published an impressive number of books and articles, but his diaries – which he kept all his life, literally until he was on his deathbed – are among his strongest work. Out of more than two million (!) words, Kristien Hemmerechts and Guido Van Wambeke have compiled a fascinating book.

  • Lost
    Compelling, moving, astonishingly true to life – a masterpiece!
    Herman Van Goethem

    In ‘Lost’ Ingrid Vander Veken uses individual stories to describe the lesser-known pathways of the great events of history. She was contacted by the relatives of a family smashed to pieces by the Second World War, asking her whether, based on a paper archive, she would be willing to search for traces of a woman who, along with her young son, fled Nazi persecution for four years only to die in Auschwitz.

  • The smells of the cathedral
    The smells of the cathedral
    The Smells of the Cathedral
    De Standaard

    ‘The Smells of the Cathedral’ by art historian Wendy Wauters takes us to one of the hotspots of the sixteenth century: the Church of Our Lady, Antwerp’s ‘cathedral’ ever since 1559. This majestic building was the beating heart of the city, where intensely religious parishioners crossed paths with dogcatchers, pilgrims, and livestock dealers. Religious serenity was sometimes hard to find inside.

  • Art for the Reich
    Art for the Reich
    Art for the Reich
    A wonderful example of art history research of the highest order.

    After eight years of research, Geert Sels has put together the puzzle pieces that he found in archives in Paris, The Hague, Koblenz, and the major Belgian cities. Through persistent detective work, he has discovered how the art was taken. He concludes that collectors, dealers, and auction houses showed little restraint in going along with the Nazis' plan to acquire the art. 

  • The Encyclopeadia of the Fall
    The Encyclopeadia of the Fall
    The Encyclopaedias of the Fall
    What kind of book is ‘The Encyclopaedia of the Fall’? A case apart, certainly.
    De Tijd

    No one can escape gravity. Planet earth is governed by laws which drag us down, ultimately into the grave. Desires meet with an equally inauspicious end. In the Bible, hunger for knowledge leads to the Fall, while Icarus’s urge to fly plunges him into the sea. In this brimful book, farce and tragedy alternate at great speed.

  • Hildeke
    A warm and humorous family portrait that’s brimming with love.
    ZIN Magazine

    Lieve Joris is an internationally renowned writer of non-fiction books about the Arab world, Africa, Eastern Europe and China. After writing about her much-admired and maligned brother Fonny in ‘Return to Neerpelt’, she revisits her family history in ‘Hildeke’. Her parents’ growing care needs pull her back to the Flanders of her youth: the mother she barely knew and the difficult father who was preoccupied with his prodigal son and who goes by the nickname ‘The Creator’.

  • I, Cartographer
    I, Cartographer
    I, Cartographer
    This is a major work by Jeroen Theunissen, one of our best wordsmiths. Impressive.
    David Van Reybrouck

    When he was around twenty, Jeroen Theunissen came across a map of Europe in a travel agency, with thick purple lines marking long-distance hikes. When, many years later, the writer starts suffering from anxiety attacks and depression and feels melancholic and trapped in an unhappy marriage, he leaves everything and everyone behind, including his two children, and embarks on a six-month walk from Southwest Ireland to the Bosporus Strait.

  • The Things We Knew in 1972
    Winner of de Boon 2023
    The Things We Knew in 1972
    Winner of de Boon 2023

    In 'The Things We Knew in 1972' Geert Buelens addresses the dangerous condition of our planet, a topical, alarming and complex subject, and he succeeds magnificently in making it totally accessible for a broad audience. While the reader remains aware of the seriousness of the subject throughout, the book is as captivating and informative as it is miraculously  entertaining.

  • Cover 'My Comrade, Che Guevara'
    Cover 'My Comrade, Che Guevara'
    My Comrade, Che Guevara
    Four books for the price of one: an adventurous travelogue, a suspenseful whodunit, a biography and a history book
    Gazet van Antwerpen

    Hilde Baele met Mzee Jerôme Sebasoni, a gardener, in Kigali, Rwanda. He told her his incredible life story. He claimed to have fought against the Belgians and to have been a close comrade of Che Guevara’s in the struggle to oust the Congolese dictator Mobutu. Baele roped in her illustrator friend Jeroen Janssen to help her get to the bottom of Che's guide's claims. All the powerful graphic material in this impressive book was sketched and painted on the spot by Janssen. This is a remarkable testament to an extraordinary life story.

  • Cover 'A Tailor in Auschwitz'
    Cover 'A Tailor in Auschwitz'
    Ide Leib Kartuz, a Tailor in Auschwitz
    These stories need to be told again and again. So that we may never forget.
    Het Nieuwsblad

    David Van Turnhout, along with Dirk Verhofstadt, follows the trail of his Jewish grandfather, Ide Leib Kartuz, who fled Poland in 1929 to escape rising anti-Semitism and violence. He settled in Antwerp, only to be arrested there and sent to Auschwitz. There he managed to survive for 29 months because as a tailor, he was useful. This book tells his remarkable life story.

  • Cover of Nobody is Going to Sleep Here Tonight
    Cover of Nobody is Going to Sleep Here Tonight
    Nobody is Going to Sleep Here Tonight
    Holes beneath the waterline the discourse about the superiority of Western norms and values.

    Rachida Aziz dips her pen in vitriol in the best tradition of literary polemic to give the established order a good dressing down. Every day she is confronted with how it feels not to belong. Aziz fights the constraints of society and writes about what she describes as her own process of decolonisation.

  • Japan

    When we hear ‘Japan’, we tend to think of geishas, samurai and sumo wrestlers populating a country wedded to ancient customs and traditions. Japan expert Luk Van Haute paints a picture of Japanese society as far more diverse than some would have us believe.

  • De klank van de stad
    De klank van de stad
    The Sound of the City
    A book of international importance.
    De Standaard

    Venice, that city of water and gondolas, is a living memory of more than five centuries, packed to the rafters with cultural history. Walking a fine line between heritage and cliché, this book is intended as a tribute to the artists who have captured the sounds and colours of Venice in their work.

  • Gunzenhausen

    Piet de Moor likes to call his books a ‘fricassee’, after a dish popular in Flanders in which all kinds of ingredients are mixed. In this book, centred on the life of J.D. Salinger, he combines fact and fiction to create an intriguing puzzle, a novel as well as a portrait of an era.

  • Brutopia
    Those who have read 'Brutopia' will be seeing this metropolis through different eyes
    Cutting Edge

    Since Donald Trump dismissed Brussels as a ‘hellhole’, the city has become world famous. Brussels has its fans, but it is also the most hated city in Belgium and the European Union. In this fascinating and very readable urban biography Pascal Verbeken debunks the widespread clichés and prejudices about contemporary Brussels by looking at its history with all its dreams and failures.

  • Cover Bart Van Loo The Burgundians
    330,000 copies sold worldwide!
    Cover Bart Van Loo The Burgundians
    330,000 copies sold worldwide!
    The Burgundians
    Bart Van Loo is in top form. The Burgundians is impossible to put down and hits like a sledgehammer. A masterpiece.
    De Morgen

    ‘The Burgundians’ takes the reader on a journey through a thousand years of European history, calling at cities such as Dijon, Paris, Lille, Ghent, Bruges and Delft, up to the time when the Seventeen Provinces arose and the Burgundian Empire came to an end. It tells a scintillating account of pyres and banquets, plagues and jousts, Joan of Arc, Jan van Eyck, Philip the Good and the Golden Fleece.

  • Cover When the water breaks
    Cover When the water breaks
    When the Water Breaks
    Empathy is the raw material all his books are made of

    This is the true story of a fisherman and his daughter, who fled their home country Vietnam some time ago. Hung crossed the ocean in his small fishing vessel to start a new life in a village behind a high sea wall. Quyen opened a successful restaurant, but is now struggling with an identity crisis.

  • Cover Back to Neerpelt
    Cover Back to Neerpelt
    Return to Neerpelt
    Lieve Joris views half the world as her village. Therein lies the universal and personal power of her books.
    Ons Erfdeel

    Lieve Joris has acquired an international reputation as an author of non-fiction travelogues. For many years she travelled around Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and more recently China, and considered the world to be her village. Now she has returned to Flanders, to Neerpelt, to the house by the canal where she grew up as the middle child in a chaotic family of nine.

  • The Father and the Philosopher - cover
    The Father and the Philosopher - cover
    The Father and the Philosopher. Saving the Husserl archives
    A story comparable to a novel by Umberto Eco or Dan Brown, except for the fact that it really happened
    De Volkskrant

    At first an exciting story about smuggling manuscripts set against the backdrop of the persecution of Jews before and during the Second World War, this book indirectly develops into a history of European philosophy in the twentieth century.

  • De bones of the Borinage
    De bones of the Borinage

    In April 1878 miners in Bernissart, a Walloon village in the former coal region of the Borinage, came across a vast quantity of dinosaur bones. The remains of some thirty iguanodons were discovered in the clay at a depth of 322 metres. Thanks to the clay, several skeletons had been preserved fully intact.

  • Cover The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    Cover The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    The alternation between zooming in to focus on the films and panning out to the world stage works well.
    De Standaard

    Matthijs de Ridder gives a sparkling account of an artist who was able to embody all the important themes of the 20th century. Using new sources, he casts a fresh glance over the life and work of Chaplin. At the same time, ‘The Age of Charlie Chaplin’ is a phenomenal cultural history of a turbulent period that defines our worldview to this very day.

  • Jihad van liefde
    Jihad van liefde
    A Jihad for Love
    A passionate plea against hate, thirst for revenge and the urge for destruction
    De Volkskrant

    El Bachiri transforms the pain he suffered into a message of love and humanity, in which he appeals to western Muslims for a more humanist approach to Islam. ‘A Jihad for Love’ is the answer to the hatred of those who wish to divide us, of those who propagate violence and terrorism. 

  • Cover Beyond the Borders
    Cover Beyond the Borders
    Beyond the Borders
    ‘Beyond the Borders’ reads like an ode to the unfathomability of human relationships.
    De Standaard

    'Beyond the Borders’ is an account of Meulemans' fascinating literary pilgrimage, digging into the history of  the American author Glenway Wescott (1901-1987). Right from the very first page this book whisks the reader away to a now-forgotten literary and artistic world in America before and after the Second World War. Gradually, the lives of Meulemans and Wescott become ever more intertwined. Is friendship beyond death possible?

  • Cover Berlin. Life in a Divided City
    Cover Berlin. Life in a Divided City
    Berlin. Life in a Divided City
    With his talent for well-balanced, focused writing, De Moor now occupies an unrivalled position within Dutch-language literature.

    How did the Nazis poison the bustling life of the city? Which communist absurdities were the residents of East Berlin confronted with in the GDR? How did the city transform after ‘die Wende’?

    In ‘Berlin. Life in a Divided City’, Piet de Moor goes in search of the soul of the mythical metropolis, a city that suffered like no other during the violent history of the 20th century. The result is an informative and kaleidoscopic book that is truly worth reading.

  • Cover The Spill
    Cover The Spill

    ‘The Fall’ tells the story of five guys who meet by chance over the course of a few years. All five have a single goal: racing, or a career as a professional cyclist to be precise. On the towpath along the river Scheldt, from Ghent to Oudenaarde, they train together: Iljo Keisse, Wouter Weylandt, Dimitri De Fauw, Bert De Backer and Kurt Hovelijnck. Young, virile and popular, they do indeed manage to become professional cyclists. But life is harder than the dream. What once brought them together, racing, just as ruthlessly tears them apart again.

  • Cover The End of The World
    Cover The End of The World
    The End of the World. A History
    Stroeykens, a physicist at heart, has thought of everything.
    KIJK Magazine

    What might the end of the world really look like? Should we be worried about the climate, mutating viruses, artificial intelligence and asteroid impacts? Or is that fear just as irrational as that of the medieval cultists who constantly expected another biblical flood to wash away the world?

    ‘The End of the World’ is a fascinating history of catastrophes, fears and nightmares.

  • Cover - Abadingi
    Cover - Abadingi
    His most personal and at the same time most universal book
    De Standaard

    'Abadaringi’ is a sketchbook and an intriguing documentary about the genocide in Rwanda. Janssen draws the landscapes and settings he encounters, and creates portraits of the people he speaks to. He also tells his own story, in handwritten notes. A phenomenal piece of journalism.

  • Cover Pieter Bruegel
    Cover Pieter Bruegel
    Pieter Bruegel
    Huet’s writing is quite simply superb: elegant, colourful, lively, with great feeling for detail, witty and never condescending.
    Kees 't Hart

    Of all the art of the Flemish School, the work of Pieter Bruegel (1525?-1569) seems most typical of the Low Countries. His familiar and much loved paintings turned him into a folkloric icon, even if that does not entirely square with his life story. Leen Huet has written the first proper biography of the sixteenth-century master.

  • Cover Zinc
    Cover Zinc
    His trademark has become a personal, erudite and stirring form of history writing.
    Vrij Nederland

    For more than a century, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany shared a neighbour, Neutral Moresnet, a completely forgotten mini-state that is now part of German-speaking Belgium.

  • Cover The Demons of Leonard Cohen
    Cover The Demons of Leonard Cohen
    The Demons of Leonard Cohen
    Francis Mus displays an expertise not seen before by Cohen’s Canadian critics.
    Brian Trehearne

    Authority on Cohen Francis Mus portrays the real Cohen and his recurring demons. He searched for and found ‘Cohen pieces’ that never have been written about. This book offers a unique view into Leonard Cohen’s soul.

  • Cover The Johad Caravan
    Cover The Johad Caravan
    The Jihad Caravan
    It brings the reader closer to the origins and the reality of armed jihad than most of the analyses.
    MO* Magazine

    Together AlDe’emeh and Stockmans travel to Zarqa in Jordan, the cradle of international jihad and  AlDe’emeh’s birthplace in a refugee camp. They returned with surreal stories that make this book unforgettable.

  • Cover Organ Man
    Cover Organ Man
    Organ Man
    Words fail me. This is a book you will never forget.
    Geert Mak

    If there was ever a man who rose from the ashes like a phoenix then it was the painter Felix Nussbaum. Mark Schaevers follows Nussbaum on his wanderings through the Nazi years, from Rome to the Italian Riviera, from Paris to Ostend and Brussels.

  • Cover Ex. About a Country Gone Missing
    Cover Ex. About a Country Gone Missing
    Ex. About a Country Gone Missing
    A beautifully written travel story, a political history and a philosophical meditation
    De correspondent

    In a very poetic style and with a keen eye for the unexpected detail, Peter Vermeersch wrote a compelling literary narrative about the post-war experience in former Yugoslavia.

  • Cover - Doel
    Cover - Doel

    The polder village of Doel, situated in the shadow of a nuclear reactor near the port of Antwerp, has been a pawn in the power games of successive politicians since the 1960s. Jeroen Janssen became fascinated by those who stayed behind and by their stories. ‘Doel’ is an impressive account of a personal journey of discovery in a village whose fate has long been uncertain.

  • Cover On the Wings of the Dragon
    Cover On the Wings of the Dragon
    On The Wings of the Dragon
    Much is currently being written about the Chinese exploitation of Africa, but who is writing about the price China pays? The answer: Lieve Joris, and brilliantly, too.
    NRC Handelsblad

    What happens when people meet who do not share a colonial past? With that question in mind, Lieve Joris leaves Africa for China. In keeping with the modus operandi she has refined over past decades, she immerses herself in the world of Africans and Chinese who venture into each other’s territory in the slipstream of the big trade contracts.

  • Cover The Age of Brussels
    Cover The Age of Brussels
    The Age of Brussels
    An effervescent portrait of the artistically and politically foaming city Brussels was between 1850 and 1914.

    Refugees and adventurers, thinkers and doers, finders and inventors washed ashore in this elegant city where life was good - ask Baudelaire, Marx, Rodin, Ensor, Multatuli and all those others, read it in the writings of Teirlinck or Van de Woestijne.

  • Cover Rebellious Rhythms
    Cover Rebellious Rhythms
    Rebel Rhythms
    A gorgeous voyage of discovery
    Bert Van Raemdonck

    No better soundtrack for a political and cultural history of the twentieth century than jazz. In 'Rebellious Rhythms' Matthijs de Ridder starts on a hazardous search through an age of jazz and jazzy literature.

  • Cover France Trilogy
    Cover France Trilogy
    France Trilogy
    An impassioned literary pilgrim
    NRC Handelsblad

    The 'France Trilogy' is a tribute to literature and an original ode to the most important of life’s pleasures.

  • Cover Leopold I
    Cover Leopold I
    Leopold I
    She succeeds in making the first king of the Belgians a man of flesh and blood.
    Erwin Mortier

    Based on Leopold’s private letters, Gita Deneckere paints a portrait of a melancholy ruler who managed like no other to weave together the personal and the political. Through his eyes she examines the history of Europe in a period of change.

  • Cover Chanson
    Cover Chanson
    An ambitious and harmonious get together of touristic guide, history lesson and good stories.
    Radio 1

    Bart Van Loo’s declaration of intent opens a highly original and enjoyable alternative history of France in the light of French chansons. By combining an erudite knowledge of French music and historical facts Bart Van Loo constructs fascinating and unexpected connections.

  • Cover Congo
    Cover Congo
    Sublime, monumental, virtuoso. This literary non-fiction is more thrilling than a novel.
    NRC Handelsblad

    Like many Belgians of his generation, David Van Reybrouck knew Congo from stories of the old days. The author begins his gripping account in the 1870s and chronicles the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial eras, right up to 2010, the fiftieth anniversary of Congolese Independence.

  • Cover Beethoven
    Cover Beethoven
    An outstanding achievement
    Vrij Nederland

    This biography will appeal to a broad audience of music lovers and to anyone interested in cultural history.

  • Cover Europe, Oh Europe!
    Cover Europe, Oh Europe!
    Europe, Oh Europe!
    Buelens has written a brilliant and accessible book about the hyperbole of the Great War.
    De Volkskrant

    In' Europe, oh Europe!' Buelens describes how Europe was shooting itself to pieces while desperately seeking a new identity. It is a book about the destructive and healing power of the word, a chunk of lively cultural history and a meditation on nationalism and international cooperation.

  • Cover The High Planes
    Cover The High Planes
    The High Plains
    Journalism, only better than that; the literature of reality

    They walk from market to market, sleeping in huts and schools, but gradually the power of the colonel starts to decline and the guide becomes increasingly insecure. The ancient landscape brings back powerful memories of Joris’ childhood village.

  • Cover The History of the World of Tomorrow
    Cover The History of the World of Tomorrow
    The History of the World of Tomorrow
    The clear prose offers a broad readership a reassuring perspective on a confusing time.
    De Standaard

    These turbulent times represent an enormous challenge to all of us, the world over. New questions that lack clear answers are making many people feel insecure. But fear is a poor counsellor.

  • Cover Back to the Congo
    Cover Back to the Congo
    Back to the Congo
    So evocative that it’s as if you have actually set out in the company of Lieve Joris.
    Nieuwsblad van het Noorden

    Fascinated since childhood by the stories of her great-uncle, a missionary in the Congo, Lieve Joris travelled to Africa in his footsteps in 1985. Back to the Congo tells of her search for the old Congo of the Catholic fathers, and for the Zaire of the ubiquitous President Mobutu.

  • Cover Psychogenocide
    Cover Psychogenocide
    A terribly beautiful book
    Paul Verhaeghe

    On October 1st 1939, the day World War II started, Hitler permitted doctors to kill patients suffering from neurologic and psychiatric disorders. This was the start of Aktion T4, the systematic and industrial killing of handicapped and mentally ill people.

  • Cover The Belgian Labyrinth
    Cover The Belgian Labyrinth
    The Belgian Labyrinth
    A coup de coeur

    In ‘The Belgian Labyrinth’ Van Istendael guides his readers through the history of Belgium, from the hunting parties of Emperor Charlemagne through Spanish, Austrian, French and Dutch rule to the creation of the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830.

  • Cover The Leopard's Dance
    Cover The Leopard's Dance
    The Leopard's Dance
    Travel writing doesn’t get much better than this.
    New York Times Book Review

    All the problems of post-colonial Africa seem to rage there in exaggerated form. Ten years after her highly praised 'Back to the Congo', Lieve Joris was brave enough to return during a particularly precarious moment in Congolese history.