William of Orange, The Silent Prince

William of Orange, The Silent Prince, by W. G. Van de Hulst
(trans. From Dutch; Inheritance Publications, 1992, 1996, 2000), pb., 142 pp.

We finished this book about 5 weeks ago, but I have been waiting to be able to write a good review. Time never comes though, so I will make my best attempt.

This was a fascinating book. It was not as great a read for my boys as Piet Prins or A. Van der Jagt which we read recently. My boys are always more drawn in by books that view the account from the perspective of a boy or young man who meets the historical figure or is involved in the events. This was more of a straight biography. Also since this was originally written in Dutch for a Dutch audience there seem to be some assumptions made about general knowledge of locations and people. Trying to explain these (or figure them out for myself!) bogged down the reading. However, the story itself was fascinating. At times the power of the story shone forth for my boys and at other times it took some effort on my part to help them see it.

I would recommend parents read this book to their children somewhere along the way simply because of the great history involved which is so little mentioned. I consider myself a bit of a history enthusiast, but I was totally unaware of this story of the Netherlands fight for their independence and their incredible leader.

William of Nassau is presented as a great example of perseverance and self-sacrificial leadership. His love for the people of the Netherlands compels him to defend their cause though it cost him position, prestige and fortune. And the fight was not one that progressed easily or quickly to success. Their path was cluttered by failures, disappointments, and difficulties. Yet, in the midst of them William persevered. Much is made of this point. Indeed the motto of his family was “I will persevere.” This theme alone makes the book worthwhile reading.

William also provides a very compelling model for leadership in general- a good thing for young boys in particular to see. While the book may embellish the praise of William in places, the little research I have done bears out this picture of William as a leader. He refused to be intimidated, could not be bought, and even endured the misunderstanding of his people as he sought to negotiate his way between extreme responses on either side. Reading this book has made me interested to read more about this man myself. The book does claim to know the mind of William in places and as I said engages in hagiography at places, as is often common in books on national heroes. This book is analogous in many ways to books written in the US about George Washington. Even if they overplay his character and nobility in places, there was true strength of character there and displaying that is helpful.

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