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Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer Paperback – July 29, 2008


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Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer + Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics + The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook TP (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590200551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590200551
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Soccer fans will not want to miss this chronicle of the rise of Total Football (soccer, of course, is known as football everywhere but in North America). What is Total Football? Here you have to get a little philosophical; you have to learn to handle phrases like "a new theory of flexible space" to wrap your mind around the idea that a football pitch isn't merely a big rectangle. The Dutch, who invented Total Football about three decades ago, are, according to Winner, a nation of special neurotics. Because space is always at a premium in their small country, they've learned to use it in wildly innovative ways. This is seen in their architecture, their art, their society--and their soccer. While other teams were playing the traditional every-player-in-his-position style of game, the plucky Dutch team called Ajax began playing a whole new game based on position-switching: defenders would suddenly become attackers and vice versa, thus substantially reducing the amount of repetitive back-and-forth running. This technique was revolutionary for its time (the 1960s), and it propelled Holland to the top of the soccer world. This extremely well written and exciting book, like Nick Hornby's immensely enjoyable Fever Pitch (1993), catches us up in its enthusiasm and puts us right there in the grandstands cheering for the Dutch coaches and players who changed the game of soccer forever. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"[An] articulate analysis of Dutch football culture - ESPN

"the definitive guide [to Dutch soccor]" -- Slatebr
"One of the definitive books of the game." -- The Times (Lonon)

"One of those strangely informative books that will... entertin those who have little interest in eithersoccer or the Netherlands." -- The Economist

"This extremel well written and exciting book, like Nick Hornby's immensely enjoyable , catches us up in its enthusiasm and puts us right there inthe grandstands cheering for the Dutch coaches and players who changed thegame of soccer forever." -- Booklist (starred review)

"Wry,obsessional, digressive, deep...this is football as art, metaphor, cutural signifier." -- The Guardian


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Customer Reviews

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The best book ever written about soccer.
Erik Gilg
A 14 year old Dutch player playing say #8 and Ruud Gullit, one of the wonderful Dutch former players, would both know their job on the field.
Petro
I enjoyed this book a lot because it is original, unconventional and informative.
Chris Blackburn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Chris Blackburn on May 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant Orange is more than just a history of Dutch football. It cleverly links the Dutch idea of football to art, architecture, culture, politics and philosophy. The book uses interviews with top Dutch footballers such as Ruud Krol, Johnny Rep and Dennis Bergkamp to provide a fascinating insight into a unique culture in which football plays an integral part. The chapters describing 'Total Football' during the 1970's are particularly interesting however the book can become a little tedious when it wanders from the topic of football.
I enjoyed this book a lot because it is original, unconventional and informative. It is easy to read and provides a useful introduction for anybody wanting to learn about this most intriguing of footballing nations. The book will interest people who are interested in the ideas behind football rather than a simple narrative history of football in Holland.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jung Won Kim on April 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I would rate this book somewhere between 3 and 4 stars - it's almost one of those oddball classics. Judging by the title, I expected more insight into the strategy of Total Football or the Dutch soccer-playing style in general, an analytical explanation of why it works. Time and space are mentioned in general; perhaps it was foolish of me but I really did hope for a detailed spatial analysis.
Part of the problem is that David Winner at times does too much telling rather than showing. One of the earlier reviewers remarked that access to video footage would be helpful. I agree, especially when Winner just keeps telling the reader how brilliant and beautiful the Dutch playing style is without much description beyond those mere adjectives. On the other hand, there are sections where the description is quite vivid, like that of the Cruyff turn. But it still falls a bit short. This book would work much much better as a documentary. Or at least there could have been greater and better use of pictures and illustrations.
Another problem on the strategy front is when Winner tries to stretch certain ideas to the absolute limit. At one point he concludes that a player's ability to curl the ball on a free kick made the defensive wall useless in such a situation. Winner fails to notice that if the wall wasn't there, someone else would blast the ball straigth through to goal. When you're forced to pick your poison with let's say Real Madrid, surely you'd rather let Beckham curl it rather than give Roberto Carlos a direct shot. A few of Winner's exasperating conclusions almost made me give up on the book.
Luckily, for the most part, I continued reading. Despite my disappointments, the book does provide fascinating observations on Dutch history, culture, people, architecture, etc.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Avnish Anand on June 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
First a list of all the things this book is not about

This won't give you all the records and statistics of Dutch football.

Doesn't have a chronological history of the game in the country. Doesn't talk in detail about all their great players, great matches or great clubs. To sum it up, this book isn't the best preparatory material for a quiz on Dutch football. You might even end up in last place.

In that sense, it is quite unlike most of the books written about a country or a club's football history and culture. In fact, the writer often goes on for pages without even talking about football, forget Dutch football. And yet, it is in my humble opinion ( as well as that of most people who write reviews on Amazon.com and [...]) quite easily the best book on Dutch football.

Because David Winner's book deals with something much more profound and goes much deeper in its investigation.

It talks about the mental makeup of the Dutch nation - why they are what they are?

It does a very good job of explaining a lot of other Dutch peculiarities - and I use that word because the Dutch are the antithesis of a conformist regular normal world. And in doing so it answers the questions about Dutch football. Why and how the Dutch came up with Total Football? Why the Dutch lose all the important matches? Why the players always get into fights? Why it is wrong to call the Netherlands the Brazil of Europe? The Dutch concept of nationalism and patriotism? And the Dutch definition of a good footballer?

If Dutch football was a living person then this book makes it very clear that the head is the most important organ; more valuable than the feet. And then it does what Freud would have tried to do - study the person's head.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "nicholas_berry" on October 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Unapologetically obsessive examination of both the Dutch national team, and the club team Ajax Amsterdam, from the origins of totaalvoetbal in the late '60s until Euro 2000. The author is David Winner, a Brit who lives in Amsterdam part-time. Winner attempts to uncover what he sees as a Dutch nation plagued by self-perpetuating pathologies related to WW2 and the Germans, democracy and its problems with committee decisions, space and the Dutch genius for creating it, and an unwillingness toward self-examination.
In a nutshell, the author suggests that Dutch society is reflected in its soccer. There are some ridiculously extraneous ideas here, such as (what I consider) filler material regarding the color orange, the seeming Dutch inability to win penalty kick shootouts, and the Jewish war experience in the Netherlands. However, the book really shines in Winner's many interviews with ex-players and managers. There are lots of great (and some contradictory) anecdotes about Cruyff, Van Basten, Rep, Rensenbrink, Keizer, Van der Gaal, and to a lesser extent Krol, Gullitt, Kluivert, and Bergkamp.
I would recommend this book only to those who are obsessed (at least mildly) with both soccer and Holland. Both worthy topics. The joy of the book is in its anecdotal fun, however; don't expect thesis material here.
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