Author Ben Coates is from the U.K., where he worked for the government as a speech writer for politicians in Parliament. Leaving that work behind, he traveled to the Caribbean, and there, on board a charter sailboat, he met a woman from the Netherlands. Many months later, on a different trip returning to the UK, he found himself stranded at the Schiphol airport with no place to stay and realized he still had her email address – and got in touch. He notes he never resumed his flight back to the UK (and yes, they are still together years later).

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After living in the Netherlands for five years, he wrote this book, he notes, as sort of a “love letter” to the country he has come to adore. Through a series of travels, events and anecdotes, he documents life in the Netherlands today, but wraps it together with extensive historical context.

In effect, this book gives insight into both contemporary life and culture and the history of the Dutch. You’ll learn that a surprising number of global brand names and products originate in the country, for example.

The Pilgrims of Mayflower fame (this is not really covered in this book), had left the UK and were living in the Netherlands – where they learned of key ideas about democracy, freedom of religion and more from the Dutch. After years living in Holland, they set sail for America – and proceeded to found the U.S. on principles they had learned from the Dutch. The Dutch impact is immense – famous names such as Wall Street and Broadway originated from the Dutch, for example.

The text is an enjoyable and fun read.

I have not traveled and have not been to the Netherlands so I cannot say if his view is accurate. However, the Netherlands are one of the countries I would like to visit, early in my hoped-for-future travels.

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