17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Hilarious, irreverent, timeless, 1 Mar. 2009
This enjoyable little book first caught my eye 20 years ago. Its longevity speaks volumes. The authors (a Brit and an American) spent a combined total of 22 years living in the Netherlands. Throughout the years I've read some of the updated versions and have found that the book has evolved along with Dutch society. The book makes a lot more sense and seems a lot more funny if you have lived in the Netherlands or if you have Dutch relatives.
Chapter 1 gives a brief history of the Netherlands. The other chapters cover different aspects of Dutch life and customs in a mainly humourous fashion. One of my favourite passages is the one about how the Dutch drink their beloved coffee. Another funny part discusses Dutch toilets. There is a chapter covering the Dutch in their former colonies and other places where they have been very influential. The 3 appendices contain some amusing and helpful material about the Dutch language such as a list of Dutch-English words that sound similar (false cognates) but when used incorrectly can be embarrassing.
As for the writing style, the book paints a caricature, using humour, exaggeration and other elements to expose and describe quirks, habits and traits, not all unique to Netherlanders but that create a colourful cocktail or mosaic of these interesting people. I have given copies to several Dutch friends and it is always well received. Indeed, they tell me the book is a laughing mirror, and they like the book title.