About the book
When Sjaakie was born in 1949 everyone said the little fellow had perfect hands for working underground. He grew up as the fourth generation of a coalmining family in the south of the Netherlands, in a virtuous Catholic community brimful of pride: the miners could work, drink, pray, play and fight harder than anyone – and they were serving the nation. Everything revolved around coal. Large parts of South Limburg were reshaped by ‘social engineers’ to suit the ubiquitous coal. Church, mine and state ruled the miners’ lives in a totalitarian fashion. But Sjaakie wanted no part of it. He was going to sing, to take to the stage. While his star rose, the mines went into decline. Marcia Luyten depicts the glory and downfall of the Dutch coalmining industry through an eventful family history.