Why the Dutch are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a country quite unlike any other. A tiny nation which punches above its weight on the world stage, where people have managed to become some of the richest in the world while working fewer hours than almost anyone else. They have the highest population density in Europe while one quarter of this low country exists perilously below sea level. They created one of the first global empires and yet are internationally renowned for their progressive attitudes and tolerance. They were the first to legalise same sex marriages 2001. A land where prostitutes are given sick pay and prisons are closed through lack of demand. But this is changing fast - the Dutch have been faced with the rising poisonous politics of far right groups, liberal laws are being repealed and immigration moves centre stage as a political issue. After a chance encounter, Ben Coates left life in London behind to move to the Netherlands, where he learned the language, worked for Dutch company and even married a Dutch wife. He takes readers into the heart of his adopted country, leaving behind the usual tourist attractions and cliches to explore what it is that makes the Dutch different.Travelling the length and breadth of the country, he dresses as a tiger for Easter, gets drunk in a world-famous art gallery, has a picnic in a former concentration camp and makes new friends in Amsterdam's famous Red Light District. Along the way, he finds a country full of contrasts, where drug use and prostitution are legal but being rude about the King could land you in jail. WHY THE DUTCH ARE DIFFERENT blends travelogue and history into a fascinating journey through the world's most misunderstood country.
'One of the few books on our near-neighbour, Coates gets under the skin of a nation renowned for its liberalism.' --The Bookseller
BEN COATES was born in Hertfordshire in 1982. After completing a Master's degree in Economics, he worked for several years in politics, including as an adviser to several leading politicians. In 2010, he moved to the Netherlands where he worked as a speechwriter for one of the world's largest companies. During his career he has ghost-written articles for numerous publications including the Guardian, Financial Times and Huffington Post, as well as many high-profile speeches. He currently lives in Rotterdam and works for an international charity.