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Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer During Europe's Darkest Hour

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Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer During Europe's Darkest Hour Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Ajax, New York Times bestselling author Simon Kuper compiles a comprehensive history of soccer in Holland and the supremely influential Ajax club's "Total Football" method, uncovering, in the process, the untold story of the Holocaust in Europe.

Review:

"Before 1940 there were 140,000 Jews in Holland. In 1945 there were about 40,000. Something very strange is going on here, and Simon Kuper has tried to put his finger on it. 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. This is more than the whim of a soccer fanatic, which he also happens to be.... [Ajax, The Dutch, The War is] a fascinating tale, which Kuper describes particularly well....The heroic resistance myths I grew up with have lost their enchantment long ago. There are still many things to admire about Holland, but the tendency towards social smugness is not one of them. I salute Simon Kuper for striking a blow against Dutch complacency. The country can only be the better for it." Ian Buruma, The Spectator

Review:

"Simon Kuper is soccer's finest journalist. He is also a terrific storyteller. This book is filled with reporting that will break your heart and analysis that will change the way you watch the game." Franklin Foer

Review:

"This is a sometimes bitter book, and its truths are often unpalatable. Kuper will not have made himself many friends in his adopted country (his father emigrated to Holland in 1976) and in a sense it has been ambushed by history, since Pym Fortuyn's anti-immigration party lost so many seats in January's elections. But it is a fascinating history, full of startling facts and sobering detail." Daily Telegraph

Review:

"Kuper turns us into more alert, more intelligent, more grateful spectators of the beautiful game." New Yorker

Review:

“Kuper’s journalism is always about more than just the game itself….It’s a fascinating exploration by a journalist who holds no truths to be self-evident but wants the facts behind the national myths we so eagerly embrace. Likely to interest WWII and Holocaust scholars as much as — if not more than — soccer fans.” Booklist

Review:

“Kuper’s poignant and perceptive account again proves there can be more to football writing than fanzines and pale Hornby imitations.” GQ

Review:

“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

Review:

“A fascinating history, full of startling facts and sobering detail.” Telegraph

Review:

“[A] poignant tribute.” Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review

About the Author

Simon Kuper is one of the world's leading writers on soccer. The winner of the William Hill prize for sports book of the year in England, Kuper writes a weekly column for the Financial Times.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Kurt Kemmerer, February 27, 2013 (view all comments by Kurt Kemmerer)
A book which begins in fits and starts -- each one of them engaging -- finally begins to flow well post page 100. The fits offer a broader history than advertised, including a look at soccer in Britain and Germany during the war, and an incredible interview with a German who played on the national team during the war.

Comparing the stories of resistance in Alsace-Lorraine and Denmark to that of Holland brings the book's main theme home. The Dutch, by and far, did little resisting, and they made it easy for the Germans to transport the Jews of Holland to their deaths. However, following the war, the nation settled on a belief in itself as one with a grand resistance movement and as a great protector of its Jewish citizens. Of course, it's not that simple, but the discord between belief and reality is stark, even after the Dutch begin to explore the actual history as a nation in the latter part of the 20th century. As the history moves forward, and we see the difference between the world's vision of Holland as a liberal paradise, including Amsterdam's rep as the world's great Las Vegas of sex and drug vacationers, and the underside reality of intolerance, including ongoing anti-semitism.

The world, however, appears to remain largely ignorant of this myth versus reality story, as Kuper points out via interviews with Israelis who view Holland and Ajax through the old mythical lenses. In a new afterward, Kuper explores the connections and imbalances of Holland's history of tolerance and collaboration with today's growing mob of intolerance, mostly aimed at Moroccan immigrants. Well written, thorough and much more subtle than I can be in my short review, it's a book worth reading for any history or soccer buff. Heck, it's written well enough that anyone with a passing interest in either would likely enjoy the book.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781568587233
Author:
Kuper, Simon
Publisher:
Nation Books
Subject:
Soccer
Subject:
Sports and Fitness-Soccer
Edition Description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Publication Date:
20120931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Education » Writing
Featured Titles » Culture
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » General
Religion » Judaism » History
Religion » Judaism » Jewish History
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Soccer » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports General
Travel » General

Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer During Europe's Darkest Hour New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.99 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Nation Books - English 9781568587233 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Before 1940 there were 140,000 Jews in Holland. In 1945 there were about 40,000. Something very strange is going on here, and Simon Kuper has tried to put his finger on it. 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. This is more than the whim of a soccer fanatic, which he also happens to be.... [Ajax, The Dutch, The War is] a fascinating tale, which Kuper describes particularly well....The heroic resistance myths I grew up with have lost their enchantment long ago. There are still many things to admire about Holland, but the tendency towards social smugness is not one of them. I salute Simon Kuper for striking a blow against Dutch complacency. The country can only be the better for it."
"Review" by , "Simon Kuper is soccer's finest journalist. He is also a terrific storyteller. This book is filled with reporting that will break your heart and analysis that will change the way you watch the game."
"Review" by , "This is a sometimes bitter book, and its truths are often unpalatable. Kuper will not have made himself many friends in his adopted country (his father emigrated to Holland in 1976) and in a sense it has been ambushed by history, since Pym Fortuyn's anti-immigration party lost so many seats in January's elections. But it is a fascinating history, full of startling facts and sobering detail."
"Review" by , "Kuper turns us into more alert, more intelligent, more grateful spectators of the beautiful game."
"Review" by , “Kuper’s journalism is always about more than just the game itself….It’s a fascinating exploration by a journalist who holds no truths to be self-evident but wants the facts behind the national myths we so eagerly embrace. Likely to interest WWII and Holocaust scholars as much as — if not more than — soccer fans.”
"Review" by , “Kuper’s poignant and perceptive account again proves there can be more to football writing than fanzines and pale Hornby imitations.”
"Review" by , “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.”
"Review" by , “A fascinating history, full of startling facts and sobering detail.”
"Review" by , “[A] poignant tribute.”
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