"The Man Who Made Vermeers" tells the story of Dutch art forger Han van Meegeren in greater detail, with deeper insight, and providing a more compelling sense of historical context than any other treatment I have seen of this subject. The author, Jonathan Lopez, is an elegant prose stylist, and he manages to synthesize an extraordinary amount of original research into a tight and extremely entertaining narrative that combines elements of a real-life mystery story with a wide range of thought-provoking ideas.
At the heart of "The Man Who Made Vermeers" is the notion that forgeries are always in some way "about" the way the present looks at the past. In the case of Van Meegeren, who was an ardent fascist sympathizer, it seems that the forger incorporated, either consciously or unconsciously, the visual repertoire of Nazi culture into the fake Vermeers that he created from 1936 onwards, after his visit to the Berlin summer Olympics. (He had faked other Vermeers in a more 1920s-influenced style before that.) In particular Lopez's discussion of the effect of Nazi Volksgeist painting on these post-1936 "Vermeers" is a tour de force - completely riveting to read and extremely convincing. The way that he ties Van Meegeren's practice as a forger to larger questions of fascist ideology is also quite impressive.
In general, the author's understanding of the historical and culture trends of the era is very solid, as is his knowledge of Dutch art history and of the history of Holland in general (According to the information in the back of the book, he apparently also writes in Dutch, so maybe he is of partly Dutch background.)
As a work of narrative story telling, "The Man Who Vermeers" holds together beautifully. The straightforward structure, swift pacing, and reader-friendly, non-academic tone make for a pleasurable experience from beginning to end. Personally, I found the descriptions of life in Nazi-occupied Holland particularly gripping and really well done. This is an excellent book, highly recommended for readers with an interest in art, criminal enterprises, or World War II history. It is likely to be the definitive book on the subject for many years to come.