Kuper, Simon 1969-
Kuper, Simon 1969-
Born 1969. Education: Attended Oxford University.
Financial Times, London, England, journalist.
Football against the Enemy, Orion (London, England), 1994, published as Soccer against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Stops Wars, Fuels Revolutions, and Keeps Dictators in Power, Nation Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War, Orion (London, England), 2003.
Retourtjes Nederland, Atlas (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2006.
Journalist and historian Simon Kuper writes about the social and political power of sports in a historical context. In Soccer against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Stops Wars, Fuels Revolutions, and Keeps Dictators in Power, he looks at a diverse set of incidents throughout the world in which sports played a key role in conflicts and political upheavals. In his travels throughout the world, he located an East German who attracted the attention and ire of the Stasi, the East German secret police, for his love of a Western German team. He finds evidence of a Ukrainian soccer club that participated in a smuggling operation to transport nuclear missile parts. He also reports on how a soccer stadium became the staging ground for a symbolic nationalist statement through an assembly of armed troops. Kuper "delves deeply into the ways that soccer has become intertwined with the politics, philosophies and worldview" of a large percentage of sports viewers around the world, according to a Publishers Weekly critic. He also notes that, as a means of political statement, soccer is useful to terrorists precisely because of the game's widespread presence. Kuper "ably blends travelogue, political research, and social investigation," commented Keir Graf in Booklist.
Kuper takes a critical look at the history of soccer in Europe and the Netherlands in Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War. Kuper reveals the main rivalries in the Dutch soccer season between Amsterdam's Ajax and Rotterdam's Feyenoord teams. "Known for his thoughtful sports journalism, Kuper, who grew up partly in Holland, as the son of South African Jews, had the brilliant idea of looking at Holland's wartime history through some of its football clubs," commented Ian Buruma in the Spectator. He outlines the historical importance of soccer clubs and other sports groups in Dutch society and history, noting that much of Dutch society revolves around participation in a variety of distinctive theme-based clubs. He acknowledges that Dutch cooperation with the Nazis during World War II was much more prevalent than commonly believed. In this context, he delves deeply into "what happened in Dutch football during the war, as it would be, in his words, a microcosm of what happened in the country," observed Contemporary Review critic Peter Hylarides. Hylarides concluded that the author has "achieved his goal of writing an interesting history of football in Europe during the war with much food for thought."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2006, Keir Graff, review of Soccer against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Stops Wars, Fuels Revolutions, and Keeps Dictators in Power, p. 18.
Contemporary Review, September 1, 2003, Peter Hylarides, "Football and the Netherlands under the Nazis," review of Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War, p. 179.
Economist, June 3, 2006, "Between Games; English Football," review of Soccer against the Enemy, p. 83.
Publishers Weekly, May 8, 2006, review of Soccer against the Enemy, p. 59.
Spectator, January 18, 2003, Ian Buruma, "The Not So Beautiful Game," review of Ajax, the Dutch, the War, p. 34.
Third World Quarterly, December 15, 2004, Karen Smith, review of Football against the Enemy, p. 1339.
Times Literary Supplement (London, England), January 24, 2003, David Horspool, "Goed and Fout," review of Ajax, the Dutch, the War, p. 31.
World Press Review, June 1, 2003, Jonathan O'Brien, review of Ajax, the Dutch, the War, p. 41.
Global Game,http://www.theglobalgame.com/ (August 25, 2005), interview with Simon Kuper.
Nation Books Web site,http://www.nationbooks.org/ (June 14, 2007), brief biography of Simon Kuper.