16 September 2016
Göran R Buckhorn writes:
Here is the truth: not only is my Dutch rusty, it is more or less non-existent. But in this case, it is irrelevant because when it comes to the beautiful 168-page book Helden op het Water, ‘Heroes on the Water’, which was published by Kanniball publisher in 2014, the photographs tell it all. This is a book about 150 years of Dutch rowing, with texts written by Leo van de Ruit, brilliant pictures from old archives showing Dutch heroes at Bosbaan, the Boat Race, Henley Royal Regatta, World Championships and the Olympic Games – there is a wonderful photograph of a smiling Bobby Pearce, the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic champion in the single sculls, surrounded by Dutch children – and recently taken stunning portraits in black and white of Dutch female and male medallists by photographer Stephan Vanfleteren.
For those interested in table of results, there are lists of all Dutch rowers who have won medals in the Olympic Games, World Championships and European Championships.
Johan ten Berg is behind the production for this coffee table book – and it is large, 11.5 in (29 cm) x 13.25 in (34 cm). Some readers might remember another one of ten Berg’s other book productions that we have written about on HTBS, Holland Beker, in 2011.
Everyone who has been involved in the making of the gorgeous Helden op het Water is to be congratulated. The book design and the paper quality are superb. The price is €39.95. Order your copy here.
A cautionary tale – when I began collecting rowing books almost 50 years ago, I had no idea of the potential extent of the challenge. As one might expect, it turns out that the natural distribution channels for books tends to be governed by the distribution of people who can read the language in which the book was written. Thus, a book covering some aspect of rowing in Australia, Canada, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the US (or wherever) that is written in English (or the very rare rowing book written in another language and translated into English) might find its way into the Anglophone book dealing and auction sources I frequented, but books written in other languages were rarely encountered. Which made sense, because why try to sell something on an unusual subject into a customer base who can’t read it? I nevertheless gradually accumulated a few such books, until I realized the futility of such a Quixotic foray, and gave my volumes to Tom Hoffmann, the most successful rowing book collector – in all languages – in history, whose collection was donated to the Leander Club some years ago (and occupies a lovely library built to house it) – see the relevant HTBS post at http://hear-the-boat-sing.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-tom-hoffman-library-at-leander.html. I’ve kept a couple written in languages I can muddle through, but Dutch is not one such language. So, unless one is a voracious collector willing to swim upstream in building a collection of books one cannot read, why purchase such a volume? I suppose that one might wish to support the efforts of anyone who publishes a book about rowing, in whatever language, or be satisfied with enjoying the illustrations, or decide that this is the occasion on which to learn Dutch. And perhaps there are other valid reasons, so, whatever justification may apply, thank you for bringing this to our attention.