The son of a preacher of the Reformed Church in the northern Netherlands Friesland graduated in law at the University of Amsterdam. He then took a short time himself an academic teaching position at the University of Utrecht, where he taught public law and immigration law. Since he did not satisfy the uniformity and the limitations of the legal activity field, he moved in 1975 for ten years in a responsible journalistic point at the left weekly De Groene Amsterdam. Part-time, he founded the literary magazine Atlas, which anticipated his next go freelance as a writer.
Mak is the winner of the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding 2008.
He is married and lives in Amsterdam and Friesland.
From his intense curiosity attitude and observation of everyday life and the developments in the Netherlands and their towns and provinces, several successful book publications revealed. An extensive travel passion he last but not least also used for research work to write reports and travel books, provided him with a wealth of international comparisons and interlocutors. His particular focus was from the beginning of the time history of the 20th century. Appeared in 1997 in the German translation of his study of the most important Dutch cultural metropolis, Amsterdam, two years later, a large-scale monograph on the demise of the village in Europe. De eeuw van mijn vader 1999 ( The century of my father, dt 2005), which explored the own family history in a wide-ranging, larger context, was a great success, not only in the literary critics, but also for the readers.
Rescheduled appeared in German 2005 edition in Europe. A journey through the 20th century, the essays collected Maks to the major and minor lines of development of the history of many countries in Europe in the 20th century. There was also a series on Dutch television, based on the book. In the talkshow Pauw en Witteman on 10 March 2008 addressed to errors in his presentation, Mak defended his assertion, at the Wannsee Conference in 1942, the Holocaust had been decided. (In fact, the decision was already falling before. )
At the same time his timely analysis of the background and consequences of the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004 came out. His reasoned with many circumstantial reception thesis sparked controversy: the politicians and media are to " merchants of fear" and have become a hysterical Islamophobia stoked, while the citizens had remained calm after the murder of van Gogh. On large contradiction is met Maks comparison of Theo van Gogh's film Submission with the Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew: both used the same propaganda technique. While in Submission the right to violence against women was concretized with the relevant verses from the Koran on women's bodies, they also highlighted in the Nazi film The Eternal Jew pictures of terrifying figures from the Warsaw Ghetto with Talmudic texts. Mak can not see any significant difference in the respective connecting a Scripture with people and the public wants also warn.
In the wake of the murder case Geert Mak stated a "moral panic ". In the country's media and especially the Internet itself had " years of pent-up xenophobia " discharged. Besides the media, the political parties tried to exploit the murder for their own interests. It " began a fear trade, worse, it was almost a fear of addiction ", " Muslims " would in major cities soon, "the majority take over ", such as representatives of the right-wing liberal VVD party government. Until then, the journalist Geert Mak was considered by his countrymen as an undisputed moral authority. Despite the pamphletistischen character of his work, he managed it, to stimulate a wide debate on the state of democracy in the Netherlands.
While the tenor of the criticism of his analysis found more or less in large parts of approval, his Nazi comparisons of the VVD, the Arabist Hans Jansen and the writer Leon de Winter were sharply criticized. His instrumentalization of anti-Semitism accusations came across angry protests. Mak 's failure as usual to respond directly to that part of the criticism, instead told his publisher that he did not compare van Gogh's film Submission (Part I) by the writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a whole with The Eternal Jew. The German daily Die Welt commented Maks behavior as follows:
" A cool analysis is failed him thoroughly in the light of their own excitement, and the angry polemics to rescue a long-buried multicultural dream that shines through time and again, the Netherlands also does not bring progress. Nevertheless, " The murder of Theo van Gogh " is worth reading. Not as an analysis of a " moral panic ", but as an interior view of a country at at least spiritual state of emergency. "
America! - In search of the land of opportunity
" Cleverly woven Mak the red thread of Steinbeck's route with a variety of historical digressions, sociological analyzes, biographical sketches and personal anecdotes into a dense panorama of the great social and political development of the United States. [ ... ] So Maks places sprawling book is three things: sensitive portrait of John Steinbeck, rousing travel features and well differentiated as sharply drawn, with walled by many facts psychogram the United States. Taken together, this results in a wonderfully told introduction to the history and present of this eternally young, unfinished nation and its so contradictory mentality. "
"The book offers the virtuosity and passion with which the author knows how to almost 600 highly entertaining pages, various narrative strands and layers, present diagnostic observations, conversations and analysis with historical reconstructions ineinanderzuweben. "
" Mak describes not only balanced and empathetic social relations, he manages also to let the American history are equally vivid and lively [ ... ]. "
" Geert Mak belongs to the type of documentary writer who unfortunately hardly occurs in Germany. The form of reportage literature is superior in that it weaves explorations in traditions, myths, books or movies over and over again Maks. In this way he drills into the reality that exposes the driving forces, from which it was born. Moreover, his storytelling is sometimes touching as a Spiritual. Geert Mak to read shows that we need the existential literature even today, namely when they violently in disorder our usual view and helps us tell you what surrounds us. "