Amsterdam Exposed: An American’s Journey into the Red Light District by David Wienir takes readers into the heart of the red light district to witness powerful encounters and meet the women who work there.
Entering his third year of law school at Berkeley and about to start a career in international law, the author couldn't be happier when the school agrees to give him a full semester of credit to study in Amsterdam. While this is to give him a break from Berkeley, it ushers him into a world he never expected and this memoir documents, with vivid images and rare poignancy, the author's adventures in this town, especially his experiences in the Red-light District. The reader follow the protagonist in a somewhat coming-of-age odyssey, discovering prostitution in some of the depressed streets of Amsterdam, and learning to cope in a foreign land. Published twenty years after the events related in the book, this memoir is a beautiful light on one of the oldest professions in the world — prostitution.
David Wienir is a good writer and his prose is tight and crisp. He leaves readers in no doubt that he is a professional writer. From the start of the narrative, we are introduced to the protagonist and to the setting — which comes across the narrative as a character on its own right. And yes, Amsterdam can be read from that perspective. Told in the first person narrative, it is gripping, somewhat hypnotic, with deft exploration of character and a plot structure that makes for an easy read. I enjoyed the beauty of language, the adventure elements of the story, and the social commentaries that offer insights into what Amsterdam felt like twenty years ago. Amsterdam Exposed: An American’s Journey into the Red Light District is enriched by the author’s gift for humor and his ability to evoke powerful images and capture the complex and deep emotional layers of the characters. It is a great read, indeed.