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Paperback, 96 pages 178 x 110mm, £4.99
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The Danes

By Helen Dyrbye, Steve Harris and Thomas Golzen

What makes the Danes DANISH: A guide to understanding the Danes that highlights their character and behaviour with warmth and wit.

Quote image
  Danes co-operate. LEGO derives from the Danish for ‘play well’, and this is just what the Danes are good at.  


  • ‘The true nature of the Danes revealed! I admit to being a Dane, and reading this book my reactions alternated between amused pride and sincere embarrassment as I saw one layer after another of our national character accurately dissected – but most of all I laughed! This book has a wonderful energetic sense of irony and humour, combined with a deep insight into the Danish culture and mentality. If you are going to Denmark, if you have travelled or lived there for a while, if you hate us, love us, or feel puzzled about us, or if you are a Dane yourself, you will enjoy this book!’ Reviewer from Denmark

  • ‘I laughed till I cried. After two years in Denmark this book still manages to provide insights into the Danes. I find myself quoting it when trying to describe Denmark to others, and even to my Danish boyfriend. His constant “you mean other people don’t do that” was only interrupted by his laughter. What is more it has been used as a textbook in a Danish Business School’s cultural understanding classes, and the Danish AIESEC (the world’s largest student organisation) offers this series to all students participating in their international traineeship exchange programme. What more recommendation do you need?’ Reviewer from UK

  • ‘Amazing book. The three authors are 100% attuned to the Danes. They get the Danish humor right – which is normally a major problem for all non-Danes. The style is humorous in an understated way that makes it an easy and funny read. The book is widely sold in Danish bookshops as an introduction to Denmark and the Danes. We could not have written it better ourselves, really. So, if you are going to Denmark or need an introduction to Danes this is the book to get. PS: I even gave my Swedish mother in law a copy.’ Reviewer from Denmark

  • ‘Both good fun and true. A real life-saver. I’ve been living in Denmark for 4 months now and I bought this book just before I left – it has proved invaluable! It covers how the Danes see themselves and their neighbours, social customs, etc., as well as trivia that would take you years to find out otherwise. One of the best things about it is the writing style – it’s to-the-point and humourous, making the book an entertaining read. If you really want to understand the Danes then this book will fill you in on all the essential details.’ Reviewer living in Aalborg, Denmark

  • ‘Quite honestly, having been living in Denmark for near enough a year, I had put this little book to one side, I’d read a few pages and thought “this can’t be right, its judgemental and generalistic”. I picked it up the other day, read a bit, to pass a minute or two, of course I read the lot. It is worryingly enlightening, with same effect as turning a light on in a room, you get the detail, but must not go and tell the other person in the room that they have spinach on their teeth. (Of course a Dane would never have spinach on their teeth, even car mechanics are spotlessly clean.) A must read.’ Reviewer from the UK

If you would like to comment or submit a review on the Xenophobe’s Guide to the Danes please do so in the box to the right. We also occasionally put up links to other sites with interesting and humorous insights on the quirks and characteristics of nations, please see below for the latest.

About the author

Helen Dyrbye (née Pearce) grew up in Ormesby – a place of Viking origin whose name means worms’ village – on the east coast of England. Her career as PR assistant for the Scout Association was diverted by marriage and relocation to Denmark where, after two years of glottal stopping and starting, she began her own English language consultancy. She now specialises in translation services.

A divorced mother with three lovely sons, plus a Danish fiancé, she believes herself pretty well integrated into Danish society. However she is still hopeless at combining the flamboyance of Danish open sandwiches with the practical limitations of packed lunch boxes. And despite the earnest efforts of various Danes to persuade her, she remains unconvinced by the idea that Danish longships contained peace-loving settlers who were kind enough to give the English natives a language.

Steven Harris was working for a multi-national in Brussels when he was moved to Copenhagen for 12 months’ ‘rotational’ training. He went on rotating in Denmark for ten years. He knew he had mastered Danish when people stopped telling him how well he spoke it.

He now lives in England with his Danish wife and three children, and works from home as an intellectual odd-job man – translating Danish into English and doing market consultancy in the legal and publishing worlds.

Thomas Golzen was born and brought up in London. He went to Denmark to work as a professional musician for three months in 1987, and never left.

After much travelling and a bewildering array of emergency jobs he settled in Copenhagen, where he still lives with his Danish partner and their three children. A graduate from the National Danish Film School, he is a freelance screenwriter and partner in a Danish advertising agency called Recognition. He also enjoys earning an occasional extra sixpence by twanging the guitar in his band, The Luminous Blue Variables.

Links to make you laugh

Folks around the world might be transfixed by the Danish Noir thrillers on Television, but back home in Denmark their favourite killers can be found not on the stark landscapes of Denmark but the idyllic village settings of Midsomer Murders.