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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The Dutch, whose dense population is compressed into a small country with flat terrain, are experts at manipulating space. The spatial awareness that has informed their wondrous architecture, asserts author David Winner, has also helped them divvy up the football pitch. Just as the flair of Brazilian soccer is an extension of South American creativity, the "Brilliant Orange" follow suit by playing a technically superior game. Winner's spirited investigation of Dutch culture and football reveals both to be maddeningly ambiguous.
The emergence of Dutch totaalvoetbal corresponded with a free-spirited social movement, both of which climaxed at the World Cup Final in 1974, when Holland took a quick 10 lead over the hated Germans. Beset by latent feelings of inferiority, the Dutch, rather than continuing the attack, taunted their opponents with an arrogant passing display. Holland blew the lead and lost the game. There went the World Cup, and with it some sense of redemption for the wreckage of World War II.
Hordes of fans decked out in immaculate orange now cheer the Dutch national team, but they don't care so much about the outcome. Supporters of Amsterdam's Ajax club wave Israeli flags and identify themselves as Jews -- though few of them are. In this and other ways, a society that appears to flourish on structure and efficiency reveals a Dadaistic undercurrent. Despite reveling in the madness, one senses that the author would trade some of it for a win. (Brenn Jones)