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The Dutch Puzzle by Duke de Baena

February 21, 2021

Among the several books I always seem to have on the go was this one, The Dutch Puzzle by Duke de Baena, which I’ve just finished. It’s part memoir, part commentary and is an interesting, if out-dated look at the Dutch culture from this former Spanish Ambassador’s perspective based on his own experiences in the Netherlands.

It was published in 1966, and I must say that at times I found his remarks unfair to my adopted country and he had me bristling on my Dutch friends’ behalf. He describes the Dutch as ‘large, heavy, dull and lacking in imagination,’ following which he tries to say how fond he was of them. I’m not sure which is worse: the insult or the backtracking. Even so, some of his commentary remains valid today and I had a good chuckle at those of his observations which have matched mine. His whole premise is that the Netherlands (or Holland, as he calls it) is a country of paradoxes, and there I would agree with him. In any event, there are some great anecdotes because he mixed with so many interesting people. That said, it is definitely a book of its time but that is also a good part of its value.

The link to the book is here

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