Brilliant Orange

Winner, David. Brilliant Orange: the Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer. New York: Overlook Press,2002.

Reason read: Holland celebrates its tulips in May with a big festival.

I didn’t know anything about dutch football (soccer) before reading this book. I have to admit I was a little worried I would be bored because, to be honest, I didn’t know anything about soccer period. It’s a sport I never played as a kid or watched as an adult.*

*As an aside, I just watched a documentary on Serbia soccer. Call me crazy but I don’t think the Dutch have anything on the Serbs when it comes to fanaticism.

ESPN had it right when they said on the back cover of Brilliant Orange, “you like soccer, you don’t like soccer, it doesn’t matter.” It’s true. Hate, indifference, like or love. No matter which way, this is an enjoyable read. Winner definitely knows his material and isn’t dry in his delivery. He could write about the science of flies on fly paper and I would probably browse it. Be prepared to learn a lot about soccer/football. Be pleasantly surprised by everything else you learn. Among other things, Winner compares soccer to ballet in its artistry. He makes comparisons to politics. He sees similarities with architecture, society, humanity.
Interesting points to mention – a paranormal expert thought the Dutch football team always lost because there was a problem with the team color of orange. Another “expert” blamed it on a deep seeded mistrust of authority so they couldn’t obey the refs.

Quotes to quote, “To play in a beautiful attacking way has become the Eleventh Commandment for the Dutch” (p 145),

Author fact: Winner likes soccer. He also wrote about the history of English soccer.

Book trivia: It would have been really cool to have pictures of the football teams or at least one of the sport’s hero, Johan Cruyff.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust to Go in the cheesy chapter called “Hollandays” (p 96).

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