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The Xenophobe's Guide to the Danes (Xenophobe's Guides) Paperback – 1 Mar 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Mar 1997
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Ravette; 1st Ed edition (1 Mar. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902825241
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902825243
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 13.7 x 0.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,718,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

'Danes try to see the other person's point of view, even though the divorce statistics may suggest that consensus is not always easy to achieve.
While it is a liberal society, the high degree of social conformity means that all right-thinking people end up with more or less the same opinions. Differences of opinion are more a matter of degree than of principle.'
Xenophobia is an irrational fear of foreigners, probably justified, always understandable.
Xenophobe's Guides - an irreverent look at the beliefs and foibles of nations, almost guaranteed to cure Xenophobia. (4 1/4 x 7, 64 pages)
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Helen Dyrbye (nee Pearce) grew up on the east coast of England and learnt to sail on the Norfolk Broads. A career as PR assistant for the Scout Association was interrupted by marriage to a Dane and relocation to Denmark.
After two years of glottal stopping and starting, she began running courses for business professionals. A published author of childrens fiction, she also works as a language consultant and makes dreadful packed lunches. She and her husband dream of finding a tax loophole big enough to buy a boat and teach their two sons to sail.
Steven Harris was working for a multinational in Brussels when he was moved to Copenhagen for 12 months rotational training. He went on rotating in Denmark for ten years.
He knew he had mastered Danish when people stopped telling him how well he spoke it.
He now lives in England with his Danish wife and three children, and works from home as an intellectual odd-job man - translating Danish into English and doing market consultancy kinds of things in the legal and publishing worlds.
Thomas Golzen was born and brought up in London. He went to Denmark to work as a professional musician for three months in 1987, and never left.
After much travelling and a bewildering array of emergency jobs he settled in Copenhagen, where he still lives with his Danish partner and their two children. A graduate from the National Danish Film School, he is a freelance screenwriter. He also enjoys earning an extra bob or two by twanging his guitar, and helping to run emergency shelters for the Danish Red Cross.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I admit to being a Dane, and reading this book my reactions alternated between amused pride and sincere embarrassment as I saw one layer after another of our national character accurately dissected, -but most of all I laughed!
This book has a wonderful energetic sense of irony and humour, combined with a deep insight into the Danish culture and mentality. The only objection I have to some of the conclusions and observations is that they are rather obviously made in Copenhagen and apply the best to Danes from the capital. Denmark is a small country, but there is still some regional variance in our culture. For instance, people in Jutland have a better sense of humour than those in Copenhagen. I think a Copenhagen Dane might have laughed less...
If you are going to Denmark, if you have travelled or lived there for a while, if you hate us, love us, or feel puzzled about us, or if you are a Dane yourself, you will almost certainly enjoy this book!
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Format: Paperback
The author portrays many negative Danish characteristics, including arrogance and narrow-mindedness. The sad thing being that it is unfortunately true, and living here for 3 years, I feel justified in having earnt the right to an opinion about it (clubbed over the head by the missus and dragged over...men with Danish partners, you have been warned!).

Yes, I've met many nice Danes, but underneath it all there is indeed, as this book rightly says, a pity from them to you on account of your non-Danishness and your general bad luck to have not been born in Denmark.

And if anyone wants to accuse me of any of the same characteristics, then I'm a Brit and the English one has many elements I agree with! A great series of books, these short guides are. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Quite honestly, having been living in Denmark for near enough a year, I had put this little book to one side, I'd read a few pages and thought "this can't be right, its judgemental and generalistic".
I picked it up the other day, read a bit, to pass a minute or two, of course I read the lot.
It is worryingly enlightening, with same effect as turning a light on in a room, you get the detail, but must not go and tell the other person in the room that they have spinach on their teeth. Of course a Dane would never have spinach on their teeth, (they must carry a personal grooming kit, even the car mechanics are spotlessly clean).
A must read, but to benefit, read it after experiencing a bit first, then you will get the full effect, that is except the section on driving and cycling, as it may well save your life, or at least explain the suicidal cyclist, who riding in London, would be in the back of an ambulance within five minutes.
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By A Customer on 3 May 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A real life-saver. I've been living in Denmark for 4 months now and I bought this book just before I left - it has proved invaluable! It covers how the danes see themselves and their neighbours, social customs, etc., as well as trivia that would take you years to find out otherwise.

One of the best things about this book is the writing style - it's to-the-point and humourous, making the book entertaining to read. If you really want to understand the danes then this book will fill you in on all the essential details.
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Format: Paperback
I am married to a Dane and have been going to Denmark at least twice a year since the late 60's so I have seen most of the country. I have attended weddings, funerals, christenings, been present at Xmas and New Year celebrations and have stayed in hotels as well as with family so I am able to say that the book gives a really good flavour for the Danish outlook on life.
We now have a summer house which brings us into contact with tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians etc and what a contrast they are to their UK equivalents - the phrase "chalk and cheese" comes to mind as they are punctual, well turned out, well trained, do what you expect, they clear up and they don't expect payment the minute they have finished the job. It is such a contrast to having workmen in your houe in UK. Their training and determination to do a proper job shines through which I am sure is pat of the Danish outlook on work/life as expressed in the book.
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I have read most of the books in the Xenophobes' Guide series, and was a bit disappointed by this one. It's not that there are mistakes in the descriptions, but I found the content a bit boring and repetitive, and not digging deeply enough into the national psyche.

Nearly a quarter of the book is dedicated to the arts, entertainment and leisure, which makes me wonder if the authors have not misunderstood the meaning of culture for its artistic sense rather than for the intended meaning of mindset, values, and social practices.

There is also too much rambling about the Danes being proud of being Danish and pitying others for not being Danish. On the other hand, there is too little about the education system, manners, etiquette, the national character, attitudes in business, and the like.
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Format: Paperback
As someone who has been living with a Danish girl for nearly three years now, and have been to Denmark many times, I was interested to see what facets of the Danes the author has identified.

In short, all of them! The book takes an affectionate look at all the national characteristics, and puts its own spin on them. It correctly identifies that if you get 'hygge' and 'janteloven' you're a long way towards understanding the Danes.

Of course, there are cultural differences, and they are highlighted and then explained in a humourous way.

The book is not particularly big, so you can go through it in a short amount of time. I read sections of it with my Danish girlfriend, and she thought it was funny too.

Good fun, but not without insight also.
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