A seemingly impossible achievement that somehow weaves together art, architecture, landscape, history and football, David Winner’s explanation of the brilliance of Dutch football is a masterpiece.
Brilliant Orange is a book about Dutch soccer that’s not really about Dutch soccer. It’s more about an enigmatic way of thinking peculiar to a people whose landscape is unrelentingly flat, mostly below sea level, and who owe their salvation to a boy who plugged a fractured dike with his little finger.
If any one thing, Brilliant Orange is about Dutch space and a people whose unique conception of it has led to the most enduring arts, the weirdest architecture, and a bizarrely cerebral form of soccer―Total Football―that led in 1974 to a World Cup finals match with arch-rival Germany, and more recently to a devastating loss against Spain in 2010. With its intricacy and oddity, it continues to mystify and delight observers around the world. As David Winner wryly observes, it is an expression of the Dutch psyche that has a shared ancestry with Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, and maybe even with Gouda cheese.