Simon Kuper’s Soccer Men

In a recent interview with the New York Times, journalist Simon Kuper, coauthor of the acclaimed 2009 book Soccernomics, claims that he thinks “people are almost as interesting as numbers.” His new collection of soccer profiles, titled Soccer Men, gave me a chance to test that claim; having done so, I think the emphasis in his statement should be placed on the word almost. To read my review of the book, head to Bookforum.com. “Kuper’s admiring portraits of an earlier generation of great talkers—from Johann Cruijff to Lothar Matthaüs to Jorge Valdano—reveal that his irritation with today’s players is due as much to broader developments in the game as it is to their individual traits.”