Jolande Withuis / Jolande Withuis – Mystery Father: Child in the Cold War

Jolande Withuis – Mystery Father: Child in the Cold War

Jolande Withuis – Mystery Father: Child in the Cold War

About the book

The famous chess-journalist Berry Withuis (1920-2009) was raised in a Calvinist family. Having lost his faith in God when he was 12 years old, he went on to become a communist and editor of the newspaper De Waarheid (The Truth). Though his daughter grew up with her father’s political convictions, she would later become one of communism’s renowned critics. For Withuis, breaking with her roots opened the path to writing and science, but also led to a distance between her and her father. After his death she couldn’t accept that the man she revered as a child hardly let himself be known as a person. With the help of, among other things, his National Security dossier, she reconstructs his life story in Mystery Father.

Withuis’ precise and moving dissection of her relationship with her father mirrors our recent world history and offers the reader a glimpse of the Cold War from within.

‘An extremely impressive book [...] It is truly admirable how Withuis keeps the personal and historical in perfect balance.’ ***** ELSEVIER

‘Unusually for the genre, this is not a lament but, as befits the communists and apparently also former communists like the author, a robust book, and above all loving, exploratory and investigative. Because one thing is clear from the start: the author doesn’t want to cast her father off but to find him.’ **** NRC HANDELSBLAD

‘Jolande Withuis analyses with surgical precision the life of her communist father. The pen as a scalpel: painful and redemptive. A masterful dissection of a sect. Moving.’ ADRIAAN VAN DIS, AUTHOR


Jolanda Withuis (b. 1949) worked for the NIOD as a researcher until 2014. She writes for NRC Handelsblad, Trouw and de Volkskrant. De Bezige Bij published Recognition (2002), After The Camp (2005), The Woman as Human (2007) and in 2008 her biography Be Masculine, You Are Strong about resistance man Pim Boellaard, and for which she was awarded the Great History Prize 2009 and the Eric Hazelhoff Prize 2010. Her biography of the Dutch queen Juliana, Juliana: Queen in a Man’s World, was published in 2016 to critical acclaim, and quickly became a bestseller. The film rights have been sold.

(c) Keke Keukelaar

Additional Book information

  • Memoir
  • ISBN 9789403106007
  • Number of pages: 224
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: € 19,99