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Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football [Paperback]

David Winner
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

19 Mar 2001
The Netherlands has been one of the world's most distinctive and sophisticated football cultures. From the birth of Total Football in the sixties, through two decades of World Cup near misses to the exiles who remade clubs like AC Milan, Barcelona, Arsenal and Chelsea in their own image, the Dutch have often been dazzlingly original and influential. The elements of their style (exquisite skills, adventurous attacking tactics, a unique blend of individual creativity and teamwork, weird patterns of self-destruction) reflect and embody the country's culture and history. This book lays bare the elegant, fractured soul of the Dutch Masters and the culture that spawned them by exploring and analysing its key ideas, institutions, personalities and history in the context of wider Dutch society.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (19 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747553106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747553106
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"1974 was actually very painful to us all," says Dutch psychoanalyst Anna Enquist. "We can't admit to ourselves that something can be so important. But it matters very much. There is still a deep, unresolved trauma about 1974. It's a very living pain, like an unresolved crime."

En Vincent zag het koren
En Einstein het getal
En Zeppelin de Zeppelin
En Johan zag de bal

(And Vincent saw the corn
And Einstein the number
And Zeppelin the Zeppelin
And Johan saw the ball)
--Dutch cabaret song

The intellectualisation of football has always foundered on a simple problem--the players. Doing all your most rewarding thinking with your feet seems to dull the philosophical impulse. Unless, of course, you are Dutch. According to legend, Europeans played a moronic, muscular version of the world's game, until Holland proclaimed its vision of total football in the 1974 World Cup, and enlightenment dawned.

In Brilliant Orange--the neurotic genius of Dutch football, journalist David Winner explores his personal fascination with the land that gave the world Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Johan Cruyff--searching for reasons why such a tiny country has produced some of football's most intelligent, enigmatic and unfulfilled teams.

Winter talks with the players, past and present--including Johnny Rep and Ruud Krol from the losing World Cup Final sides of 1974 and 1978--uncovering their personal experience of the public triumphs and disasters. But it is the breadth of his enquiry into what it may mean to be Dutch--reconciling a colonial past with a multi-cultural present; living with the memories of wartime occupation and collaboration; the tensions between a fiercely individualistic, libertarian spirit and the principles of communality--that makes this such an extraordinary and wonderful book. --Alex Hankin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Ambitious and illuminating' -- Independent on Sunday

'Ambitious and illuminating.' -- Independent on Sunday

'An excellent book' -- World Soccer

'An excellent book.' -- World Soccer

'Lavishly written...Brilliant Orange captures your imagination with real charm.' -- Total Football

'Original and unconventional...Fascinating and individualistic, Brilliant Orange beguiles you like a Cruyff turn.' -- The Times

'Winner paints a suitably glowing picture...Ambitious and impressive' -- Observer

'Winner paints a suitably glowing picture...Ambitious and impressive.' -- observer

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite brilliant 30 Jun 2000
By A Customer
Firstly let me get one thing straight - I'm not a football fan and I have no real interest in the Dutch. But with Brilliant Orange, David Winner seems to have cast these minor inconveniences aside and written a masterful analysis of the Dutch psyche, using football, (and specifically the 1970's team of Cruyff, Kieser, Rep et al) as a counterpoint to their particular and sometimes peculiar ways. Winner has really done his research - he brings in subjects as far and wide as "art and architects, cows and canals, anarchists, church painters, rabbis and airports", and deftly weaves them into the rich tapestry of footballing history. His real skill, however, is in bringing the matches to life and demonstrating the artistry of the game. I wasn't even born when the Cruyff team of 1974 lost against the German's in the World Cup final, but how I want to go back and see the match now.
Winner manages to explain the Dutch flair, their inventiveness, their spatial awareness, their internal wranglings and their inevitable defeat at the hands of lesser opponents. (take their losing to the Italians in last night's semi-final as a perfect example) There's something of the grace of the Dutch footballing style in Winner's writing too; a light anecdotal touch by turns endearing, personal and very funny, which enables him to really engage the reader. Even if you're not a Dutch loving football-aficionado, this is a must read!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into the heart of all Dutch fans 30 Jun 2005
For years my friends have wondered why I was so obsessed about the Dutch and their football (I'm a Malaysian living in England!). I struggled to make them understand but this book explains why so brilliantly. The Dutch play football so breathtakingly (when things are going well) but have so little success to show for it. Strangely, it is this frustrating underachievement that makes them so fascinating. In many ways, their well-documented self-destruction is very much a reflection of their culture (not just the footballing one). There are sections in the book where Dutch football legends would say "if only the Dutch had this , if only they had that...on top of their skill...they would be perfect footballers". But that would take away their Dutchness...
One thing's for sure though...the day they finally win the World Cup, it won't be just the Dutch fans who would be would mark the fulfilment of one of the greatest footballing phenomenons.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dutch Brains. Dutch Beauty. 18 Dec 2001
Brilliant Orange, by David Winner, has to rank as one of the best soccer books I have read
in a long time. This is a book with brains spilling out over the edge. It is much
more than a story about Dutch Soccer. It is an inquiry into how ideas and philosophies
present in Dutch society underpinned some of the greatest teams and players to
have ever played the game. While it is an entertaining and stimulating read, it
also manages to be instructive technically and tactically. Coaches and players
will find this book very useful in terms of identifying what it takes to play
the game at its highest level. And what fascinated me the most was Winner's study
of beauty and the idea of the Beautiful Game. If you want to best understand what
the Beautiful Game is about, you may want to read this book before any others
on the subject, including Pele's My Life and the Beautiful Game.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any football fan 2 Aug 2002
Just try to think of all the questions you might ask about Dutch football from its origins to its lack of competitive strenght in crucial matches. Brilliant Orange has the answers. Based on interviews and on his own life experience in the country, David Winner present the readers with a masterpiece that goes far beyond the mere "how Cruyff was fantastic thing" and suggest that the famous total football theory is a consequence of a cross over between arts, philosohy and sports. The book makes you clap you hands harder for the Dutchmen's legacy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, informative and interesting 15 Mar 2002
An excellent insight into Dutch football, especially the Ajax and Dutch teams of the 70s. Also using the views and opinions of Dutch artists and architects, as well as Dutch footballing legends puts a whole new spin on looking at the Dutch style of football. The chapter on the Dutch fear of penalties makes for the most interesting reading, and certainly makes the English aversion seem small in comparison. The only criticism is that sometimes the analogies are a little over the top, suggesting that the Dutch style of football is a direct result of the geography of the Netherlands being my favourite example. That said this is still an excellent read, especially if you have an admiration for beautiful football.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT ORANGE? BRILLIANT BOOK 30 Oct 2001
This is quite simply one of the finest football books written in years. The first indepth study of football in Holland and the pecularities and style of that football so quintessentially Dutch. Winner examines the finer points of Dutch football (without being side-tracked by the Ajax Academy) and what makes Dutch football so different, so unique, by examining it in its historical and social context as well as its sporting context. Ajax, Johan Cruyff, Rinus Michels, the heartbreak of the 1974 World Cup Final, the Dutch football mentality and the Dutch national team's record at taking penalties (which, incredibly, is worse than England's) are all examined thoroughly yet succinctly. The interviews with Johnny Rep, Ruud Krol and Dennis Bergkamp top off a fascinating book that is very rereadable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A History of Dutch Football
David Winner is an English journalist. This book is for the thinking fan – cultured but not academic. It is about football and it is about Holland. Read more
Published 2 months ago by gerardpeter
4.0 out of 5 stars Missing One Key Element...
Why do the Dutch play such wonderful, captivating football - but never win anything ? (OK, aside from one European Championship. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Smst1
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Orange by David Winner
Really enjoyed it . Very interesting and cleverly written . Learn`t an awful lot not just about Dutch football but also Dutch society. Plenty of insight and well researched.
Published 3 months ago by Michael Stiffin
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Orange
If you have any interest in football and want to know more about the great Dutch teams then this is the book for you.
Published 3 months ago by steven patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
A really insightful piece about Dutch football. Definitely worth a read for any serious football fan whatever nationality they may be.
Published 3 months ago by Tim harrison
3.0 out of 5 stars Not great not bad
An interesting read but not totally focused on Dutch football as I expected. Some intriguing interviews with past Dutch stars.
Published 4 months ago by Adrian Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars The boy David done good: Back of the Net!
It's not often that you can describe a book as 'an education', but this one certainly is. For one growing up in the 1970's watching the majestic Ajax then the national team change... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. G. Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Interesting and funny book. It is as much about Dutch culture as football. It arrived well before the expected date , excellent service
Published 12 months ago by Mr. Eric W. Hardisty
5.0 out of 5 stars Different and quirky
I really enjoyed this idiosyncratic look at the influence of the Dutch psyche and culture on the amazing development of Dutch football in the 60s and 70s
Published 13 months ago by M. Worley
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely marvelous.
The best book on football I've ever read and most likely because it's not on football at all but architecture, philosophy, politics etc. A truly fantastic piece of work. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Joe
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