In this chapter we present a summary of the main contents of this book. According to the Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing (Perelman, Barrett, & Paradis, 1996, 2001), an abstract is “a brief summarizing statement. . . read by parties who are trying to decide whether or not to read the main document.” However, since the main conclusions of each chapter are also included, this chapter can also be read as a summary, “which, unlike an abstract, is a document in miniature that may be read in place of the longer document” (same source). For pictures, tables, and other illustrative material, we refer to the various chapters of this book.
In this chapter we discuss the history of the Netherlands as a land of sea, rivers, levees, and polders. Water and levees are part of the Dutch genes. In order to understand the constant struggle of the Dutch against the threatening water of the sea and an abundance of rivers, we start our research in the beginning of our era. This also gives us an understanding of the development of flood defense construction techniques, and the intrinsic weaknesses of flood barrier constructions. Where it concerns basic shapes and techniques, not much has changed in flood barrier construction in the past 2,000 years.