David Winner's Brilliant Orange is half cultural guide, half nostalgic reminiscence for a faded beauty, and half the history of Dutch soccer, with all its attendant wonderful personalities and stories. Yes, your math is correct--three halves. But then such is the neurotic genius (note the book's subtitle) and strange perception of space that belongs not just to the Dutch, but to this book as well.
David Winner clues you in to this fact early on with a table of contents, its chapters in seemingly random numerical order and justified thus: "In the spirit of Total Football, chapter numbers are not sequential--think of them instead as 'squad numbers'." Like the mystical (and often mythologized) totaalvoetbal of Ajax and Holland in the 1970's, the chapters intertwine, shift gears, then suddenly all pull at once to catch the bewildered opposition unawares.
That said, if you're expecting a discussion of tactics and systems of play, prepare to be disappointed. Brilliant Orange takes a more philosophical angle, examining the relationship of painting, architecture, dance, social movements, and religion to soccer rather than the tactical X's and O's. In fact, much of the tactical discussion borders on magical thinking, and while this may feel perfectly natural and appropriate to some, other, more pragmatic types, are bound to be disappointed.
Despite my thorough enjoyment of the book itself, there is an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for a thing lost, acknowledged in the updated "-14: body snatchers" chapter. Simply put: the Oranje are not what they used to be. The stars that supposedly align to make magical Dutch football haven't been doing so of late.
In fact, the worst part of this book is that sense of "you really had to be there." Sure, YouTube is loaded with clips that give you a taste of what Dutch soccer in the 70's was like, but to those of us too young to remember with clarity (or at all!), or unfortunate enough not to have paid attention while the wonder was present, the true magic of the thing is gone.
But do yourself a favor. Dig around on YouTube a bit--searching for Cruyff and Total Football should get you started. Van Basten and Bergkamp will bring things more up to date, though the clips I've seen are more about individual skill and use of space than team play. But watch a little, wonder a little, start to imagine that there is more to be made of the space around you than you really perceive, and then go find yourself a copy of Brilliant Orange.