Published in 2007, Martijn de Rooi’s How to Survive Holland aims to explain Dutch culture to readers unfamiliar with the Netherlands , including the history and population.
The book is written from the perspective of a highly educated man who clearly loves his homeland, and hopes to educate the reader – identified as working on such misconceptions as the need to request a life buoy on arrival in the Netherlands as a safety measure against the rising waters.
How to Survive Holland is a 175 page paperback expanded over twelve chapters covering topics like history, geography, food, and culture.
The insight into the Dutch culture is valuable for the uninitiated and includes explanations beneficial to people wanting to emerge themselves into local society. Of note is the explanation of the Dutch liberal attitude of – equality for all, and tolerance of most things – as presented in chapter 4 ‘Abnormally Normal’.
Criticisms of this book are based on the writing style. Many times thirty words are used when five would suffice. The result is that the reader is distracted by the style and intake of information is reduced.
Being proud of one’s own homeland can also reduce objectivity. Comparing the Vaals hill in the province of Limburg to Mount Everest, or the former Amsterdam City Hall building to the Taj Mahal or Roman Colosseum (pg72-73) may sound a little silly – and that is not the writer’s intention.
Finally, and of no fault to the author, in the six years since its publication, some information is outdated and now incorrect: like strippenkaart use on public transport, and Dutch places on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
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