Dutch Messengers: A History of Science Publishing, 1930-1980


In this pioneering work, based upon interviews with many of the surviving protagonists, Cornelis ('Cees') Andriesse tells the story of the role that Dutch publishing houses played in the rise of English language commercial science publishing after the Second World War, that was preceded by the decline of science publishing in German. Using the existing literature as well as many privately held archival sources, the author follows the fortunes of the leading publishers, Martinus Nijhoff, Elsevier and North Holland while also briefly discussing smaller houses like Dr. W. Junk and Reidel. The book contains lively portraits of the main characters involved and will no doubt stimulate further research and discussion of the role of publishing in the history of science. The authors’ main thesis that successful publishing requires a strong, fruitful partnership between an academic publisher and an academic editor, will no doubt convince most readers. This is a great book on the most productive friendships and partnerships in the history of science publishing.

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Cees Andriesse (1939) is Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Utrecht. He obtained his doctorate in neutron scattering at the University of Delft. He then moved to Groningen to do research on and theoretical studies in interstellar mediums. Here, he discovered the law of stellar mass loss. He then went on with high-temperature experiments on behalf of the Dutch electricity sector, in order to assess the safety of nuclear reactors. Hereafter he was offered a chair to teach and research energy conversions at the University of Utrecht. It was in this position that he proved that during photosynthesis no net entropy is generated.
In addition to scholarly writing Cees Andriesse has also published several books for the general public. These include three essay collections, four novels and three voluminous historical works. In addition to the current volume Cees Andriesse has also published a book on the Life and Works of the seventeenth-century scientist, Christiaan Huygens, and a book about the development of nuclear energy in the Netherlands. The Huygens book has since been translated into both English and French.
Cees Andriesse’s work for the general public has resulted in his being invited to join the Society of Dutch Literature (Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde), an honour in the Netherlands.
"Andriesse's history is lively and compelling, perhaps surprisingly so for a history of scientific publishing, and he provides the reader with valuable information and provocative insights."
Mary Jo Nye, BMGN - The Low Countries Historical Review, 126: 3, 137-138

"At times abruptly and unsuspectingly prosaic, Andriesse gives us a book in which context and personal relations expose the historical and human dynamics of the apparently harsh world of science publishing."
Arnold Lubbers, University of Amsterdam. In: Library & Information History

" A ... breathtaking contribution to the history of Dutch scientific publishing in the world."
Berry Dongelmans, Leiden University. In: De Gulden Paser, 89.1 (2011), pp. 91-92.
List of Illustrations

1. On Science Publishing
2. The Publisher of Huygens and Lorentz
Quest for the Lingua Franca
3. German Scenes
Two Scenes from 1942
A Letter and Three Scenes from 1938
Two and a Half Scenes from 1933
4. Elsevier’s Venture
The Encyclopaedia of Organic Chemistry
The Little Beilstein
The Book of Health
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
5. Frank and his ‘North-Holland’
The Choice for Physics
Monographs on Theoretical and Applied Physics
The Quest for Journal Editors
6. Beyond Physics
Excerpta Medica
Biological Publications
Philosophical Diversions
7. The Associated Scientific Publishers
The Dissolution of Boundaries
The Integration
8. Saturation
9. Towards the Internet Revolution

Manuscript Sources and Interviews