by Lynn

While going through boxes of old ABC papers, I recently ran across a book review ripped out of a 1989 edition of the newspaper Het Parool. The reviewer, Johannes van Dam, saw The UnDutchables as a fresh take on Dutch life written by an American and British couple.

Written on the clipping in pen was a note from ABC’s Rick Lightstone: “Shall we try six copies?” We did buy six copies, then more… and more and more, until we were pre-purchasing 1,500 copies from the self-publishing authors Colin White and Laurie Boucke every time they revised the book.

Dutch customers loved it, sending it abroad as gifts to far-flung relatives and friends, and newcomers to the country passed it from hand to hand. Not everyone saw the humor in it, but Johannes van Dam wrote in a preview to the fourth edition why he valued the book: “Yes, we, the Dutch, are a funny lot, but we are much too straight to notice that ourselves.”

Many of the book’s critics were, in my experience, British expats, who found the book insulting. I guess straightness as an antidote to humor is not only a Dutch trait.

In 2002, we held a launch and signing session for the fourth edition. Here’s a picture of Laurie and Colin, on the right, sitting outside the Kalverstraat store in the sun, ready to greet (their many) fans.

They’re still revising and honing the text and illustrations, as we can now experience in the ninth edition of this now-iconic outside perspective of Dutch life as it has changed since 1989, as well as how much it has stayed the same.

If you want to read more about the latest edition of The Undutchables: An Observation of the Netherlands, Its Culture and Its Inhabitants, as well as thoughts from authors White and Boucke, click here to read ABC’s Lauren Comiteau’s interview with them, published on