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Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe During the Second World War Paperback – November 6, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


FEATURES THE TIMES - article by the author on 13 JanuaryTHE HERALD - articleabout the book on 4 JanuaryJEWISH TELEGRAPH - author interviewLONDON JEWISH NEWS - interview with SimonTELETEXT - interview TV GMTV SUNDAY programme - interview with Simon about the book on 2nd February RADIO BBC RADIO 3 Nightwaves 17 January. Simon reviewed a football documentary but got a plug for his book too.BBC RADIO 4 TODAY discussion with Simon during week of 27 JanuaryLONDON LIVE Robert Elms Show interview (broadcast week of 20 January)TALKSPORT interview 15 JanuaryBBC RADIO 5 CHILES ON SATURDAY - interview with Simon on 15 FebruaryBBC RADIO 5 SIMON MAYO programme - discussion and review of the book on 13 FebruaryBBC Radio York - interview on 17 JanuaryBBC Radio Humberside - interview on 15 JanuaryBBC Radio Jersey - interview on 17 JanuaryBBC Radio Leicester - interview on 22 January REVIEWS 'Kuper's poignant and perceptive account again proves that there can be more to football writing than fanzines and pale Hornby imitations.'GQ - January 03 'This book makes you realise that Bill Shankly's statement about footy being more important than life and deathis not far off.'FRONT - March 03 'Kuper is an orginal, sophisticated and adventurous writer.' THE SUNDAY TIMES 9 February 'passionate and moving volume' THE GUARDIAN - 1 February 'His writing combines scholarly graft, a feel for political complexity and quiet but powerful wit.' THE INDEPENDENT - 25 January'An absolute belter.' Danny Baker THE TIMES 7/6/03 'Kuper has produced a beguiling book, not only for aficionados of the beautiful game or connoisseurs of Jewish history, but for anyone curious about our not-so-distant past.' FT -18 January 'Kuper has fashioned a work which brilliantly juxtaposes the everyday life of football clubs with the awful fate suffered by so many of their Jewish players, officials and supporters.' TIME OUT 19/03/03 THE EXPRESS Non-fiction Read of the Week **** 16 FebruaryTHE INDEPENDENT sports section 'Bookof the Week' 17 FebruarySUNDAY TELEGRAPH - 26 JanuaryTHE TIMES - 1 FebruarySUNDAY TELEGRAPH - 2 FebDAILY TELEGRAPH - reviewFHM - review 1st June 03 SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY 19 January 'football history at its best' TLS - 24 January 'Kuper's book demonstrates how football can be treated in a way that broadens ourview of the world' THE SPECTATOR - 18 January 'Hereby hangs a fascinating tale which Kuper describes particularly well.' JEWISH CHRONICLE - 17 January '[A] moving and compelling account' 'Simon Kuper is one of the country's brightest and most sophisticated sports writers.' THE TABLET - 12 April WATERSTONE'S BOOKS QUARTERLY Spring 03 'Not just for football fans. This book is filled with human stories and intelligent commentary on the relationship between football, politics and the war.' FOURFOURTWO - 5 FebruaryWHEN SATURDAY COMES - February 03 'compelling, but also disturbing' 'Kuper has delivered a fantasticaddition to the literarture of God's Game' DUBLIN EVENING HERALD 'Kuper's book is a relevation...Moving and enlightening, this is an unexpected triumph.'LEEDS GUIDE 1/03/03 Staffordshire Journal - reviewHAM & HIGH - review 17 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Simon Kuper's first book, FOOTBALL AGAINST THE ENEMY, won the WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR in 1994, and went on to become an international bestseller. Born in Uganda in 1969, he spent most of his childhood in Holland. He is a sports columnist for the FINANCIAL TIMES.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (November 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752842749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752842745
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,009,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Erkan Saka on January 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Simon Kuper maintains his easy-flowing style and investigative journalism concerning his topic. I was already suspicious about the 'Dutch tolerance', and this book can be read to shatter all there is...

However, this is not really a book on football or Ajax. Yes, Mr. Kuper is the best to connect football and politics but this time there is more politics than soccer. And it seems that the whole book is organized to shatter a myth in which Ajax is a small part... Anyway, I did not feel any regret to read the book, i am just warning you about what to expect...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark Epps on February 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
In his previous work, such as the magisterial "Football against the Enemy", and in his newspaper columns collected in "The Football Men", the FT journalist Simon Kuper demonstrates both his deep knowledge of the game and an intimate familiarity with the British, Dutch and German national characters that must be unparalleled among sports writers.

I have read many books about football and many about the war. This is one of the best on either subject. "Football Against the Enemy", along with Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch", founded a genre - that devoted to the consumption of sport, rather than the sport itself. Having thus established himself as a "sporting anthropologist", Kuper is uniquely equipped to explore tyranny from the point of view of sport.

As Kuper himself points out in the first chapter of "Ajax, the Dutch, the War", the myth that the Netherlands had heroically done all it could to resist German barbarism has long since been discarded by the Dutch, though interestingly it lives on in Israel. He rejects however the idea that there was nothing that could have been done in the face of such a brutal occupaton by comparison with Denmark and Norway. The stark fact is that the Netherlands lost three quarters of its Jews, largely rounded up by Dutch officials and policemen, while the occupied Scandinavians and even Germany's Italian and Bulgarian allies refused to heed German demands for mass deportation. In his condemnation of Amsterdam's present complacent attitude to the recent past Kuper's tone, especially in the final chapter, betrays a bitterness spared towards the rival city of Rotterdam.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ted Stimson on June 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The link to football is minimal. This book focuses much more on the Dutch, the war, and the treatment of Jews than it does on football or Ajax. More importantly, it's just not that interesting.
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Format: Paperback
I must agree, using Ajax is a way to examine the role of the Netherlands in World War II and for the most part it is not flattering. The author has an agenda but he is aiming at certain truths which may be selective history. It is even misleading that it is not actually titled "Ajax, the Dutch, the War and the Jews" because that is what this is about and not neccessarily in that order. Among the evil and gross wrong of war, there are some heroic episodes involving the Dutch against the Nazi war machine. A lot of detail gives us much of the ambience of those days. Still, the Dutch as a people and as to whether they were victimized by the Nazi war machine is very much a minor issue with the author along with any other ethnic group feeling that wrath. However, the author does play on the fact, that teams like Ajax like Tottenham in England are perceived to have ties with the Jewish people.

Chapter 11 "Soldier Heroes: British and German football in the war" is exciting per World War II buffs, especially the travails of some of the German National players such as Alex Sing. You will read of how German soccer teams in Paris even were attacked by Partisans while practicing.

Ajax is truly a most legendary name in international club soccer with their development of 'total football', a team built on style and finesse and not monetary ones via most of the biggest clubs in Europe. Ajax, the club itself was largely heroic during World War II versus say, the Netherlands as a whole in Kuper's research.Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football is highly recommended reading as well.

Still, it's a book on Dutch soccer and that is good.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jack Peachy on April 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
From the title, I thought this would be a simplistic story of a European football team, and would be mildly interesting. I found it to be one of the best histories I have ever come across. Not only are the stories spellbinding, but I have never come across any other book which has covered the material, and I have read hundreds of books on WW II. To top it off, I had even previously heard (and believed) all of the stories which the author shows to be myths. I want more !!!!
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