"The Dutch Moment" book cover

'​The Dutch Moment': Prof. Klooster's latest book explores 17th-century empire building

January 17, 2017

In his new book, “The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World,” History Professor Willem Klooster delves into the ways “the Dutch built and eventually lost an Atlantic empire that stretched from the homeland in the United Provinces to the Hudson River and from Brazil and the Caribbean to the African Gold Coast.”

Wim Klooster, Clark
University professor of

“The Dutch Moment” (Cornell University Press) furthers understanding of the largest interimperial conflict of the Atlantic world.

In an interview with historian/blogger John Fea, Klooster discusses his book and research.

“As a Dutchman working on the Atlantic world, it has always been obvious to me that a book focused on the Dutch Atlantic in the seventeenth century – the period in which the Dutch were so active worldwide both militarily and commercially – was missing,” Klooster tells Fea, professor of American history and chair of the History Department at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, who writes a blog called "The Way of Improvement Leads Home."

“The mid-seventeenth century formed a specific stage in Atlantic history that was marked by activities that connected the Dutch to other colonial realms, especially the infant English and French colonies that remained afloat in no small part due to Dutch commercial assistance," Klooster explains. "On the other hand the Dutch Atlantic had a distinctly violent side, as expressed in the endless battles with their Iberian enemies and Dutch relations with indigenous Americans and enslaved Africans. What helped undo the short-lived Dutch empire was not only Iberian fighting power or nonwhite revolts, but eventually the refusal of unpaid and poorly fed white soldiers and sailors in Dutch service to defend the imperial outposts.”

The book “provides a much-needed history … and it does so based largely on an original interpretation of primary materials in several languages, remarkable sources ranging from dictionaries to cargo lists to diaries,” writes Alison Games, an author and professor of history at Georgetown University. “The writing is lively and witty, and Wim Klooster has a wonderful eye for the memorable detail."

Klooster received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Groningen and a Ph.D. from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He has been at Clark University since 2003, and he teaches classes on comparative colonialism (the Americas), the age of Atlantic revolutions (1776-1824) and Caribbean history. Among his previous works are “Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History” (NYU Press, 2009) and “Illicit Riches: Dutch Trade in the Caribbean, 1648-1795” (Brill Academic Publishers, 1998). A forthcoming book is “The Second Dutch Atlantic, 1680-1815,” co-authored with Dutch historian Gert Oostindie.