Do you guys remember when I had a giveaway for the book Amsterdam Exposed on here? That was all the way back in May. I mentioned on there that I had gotten the book but hadn’t gotten to read it yet. Well I finally got to read it and finish it and I’m back with my thoughts.
Author, David Wienier, writes about his personal experience in Amsterdam when studying abroad during law school 18 years ago. After an experience at a brothel in Reno where he didn’t do anything with the women there but started conversation, he became really interested in telling the stories of these women and wanted to give these women a voice. Amsterdam is famous for it’s Red Light District where prostitutes work in windows, dancing, and basically advertising. It was the perfect place for him to both study abroad and try to do research for the book he wanted to write.
Not surprisingly, the women had no interest in helping him with his book. His rules were that he would never pay a prostitute to help him with his book and he would never be a customer. The women he approached night after night for weeks had no interest in helping him with his book at all and then add to that that he wouldn’t be paying them and they really had no incentive. The only girl he met that seemed willing to him him was a young woman named Emma. David felt an immediate connection to Emma and for months they talked with the promise that Emma would eventually help him.
You’ll have to read the book to find out how that all worked out and what David learned, but I found it really interesting. I don’t see myself ever befriending a prostitute, but it was really interesting to learn all the things David learned. He wanted to make it a point to the readers that no matter whether you approve or agree with prostitution, these women are people too. We don’t know how they ended up with these jobs or what they’re going through and so while we may or may not agree with what they do it’s important to remember there is always more to the story and more than meets the eye.
There are a few quotes I made note of while reading. One is actually a whole excerpt, but I think they’re all really good and worth noting.
People end up in life where they think they belong.
Society’s grip is powerful, especially for those who have never lived outside it. This is why traveling, and living abroad, can be so important. Trying to understand the concept of freedom when one has never lived outside one’s community is like a fish trying to understand the concept of water. They are surrounded by it, so it’s impossible to see. It’s impossible to comprehend. It’s all they know. When you live abroad, you gain perspective. You are distanced from a world once believed absolute. The grip of groupthink loosens, and the world is presented for what it is, a place of endless possibilities, where most limitations are self-imposed.
When you are young and naive, like I was, you think love, purpose, destiny, and other such things matter to everyone. you get older, and realize for many, the only thing that matters is money, their only value system being whether they are putting money in their pocket, or not.
This last quote, I’m including in here just because it made me laugh out loud! After so much bad luck trying to get women in the district to talk to him, David and a friend decide to try their luck at a high-end brothel in the city. After not only striking out there as well but being treated rather rudely, David said this:
Societe Anonyme was advertised as one of the most luxurious and versatile brothels in the city, where every fantasy could come true. If my fantasy was to be verbally abused by an unhinged prostitute in a crowded room, they nailed it.
I really enjoyed Amsterdam Exposed. You have to be open to the subject matter to enjoy it though, I would say. If you’re not against learning about the Red Light District in Amsterdam and you want to gain more insight and a different perspective on society and humanity, then I really recommend this book.
*This book was sent to me complimentary, but all opinions are my own.*