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(Hybrid) From Cliques to Politics with Simon Kuper and Ian Leslie

Tue 14 November 2023 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30


Journalists Simon Kuper and Ian Leslie discuss the role of Oxford University’s elite student culture in producing the modern British Conservative Party.

How did a tight-knit circle of Oxford-educated elites come to dominate the British political landscape? And what does Oxford’s outsized role in churning out Conservative leaders reveal about the health of the UK’s political system?

In his book Chums: How a Tiny Caste of Oxford Tories Took Over the U.K., Simon Kuper traces some of the biggest names in the British Conservative Party – including Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and more – to their formative years at Oxford. Kuper pulls back the curtain on the debating tactics and cultivated affectations, the friendships and the rivalries, that swept through Oxford in the second half of the twentieth century, and that continue to exert a powerful grip on British politics. Join us to hear Kuper engage in conversation with journalist and 2018—19 American Library in Paris Visiting Fellow Ian Leslie about the state of British politics today.

About the Speakers:

Simon Kuper has lived in several countries around the world, including Uganda, the Netherlands, the UK, the US, and France. His journalistic specialisms are equally wide-ranging: he writes on topics from politics to urban policy to soccer. Kuper publishes a popular weekly column in FT Magazine. His latest book, Chums, was a Sunday Times bestseller, and his 1994 book Soccer Against the Enemy won the William Hill prize for Sports Book of the Year.

Ian Leslie is a journalist, writer, and speaker who specializes in human behavior. He was a Visiting Fellow at the American Library in Paris in 2019. His books include Conflicted: Why Arguments Are Tearing Us Apart and How They Can Bring Us Together and Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Economist, The New Statesman, and the Financial Times.

Learn more:

In his book Soccernomics, Simon Kuper draws from business and economic concepts to shed light on the world’s most popular sport. Watch him in an interview about the economics behind the 2022 World Cup.

The New York Times printed a profile of Simon Kuper and his latest book, Chums, in 2022. Read it here.

Ian Leslie co-hosted a podcast series called Polarised, which explored the divisive nature of contemporary politics and culture. You can find all of the Polarised episodes here.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (the speakers will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

Copies of Chums: How a Tiny Caste of Oxford Tories Took Over the U.K will be available for purchase at the Library in the week leading up to this event and while the event takes place, generously provided by Smith&Son. All sales support this local independent bookstore.

Attendees will have the opportunity to have their copy signed following the conversation.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Tue 14 November 2023
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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(Hybrid) From Cliques to Politics with Simon Kuper and Ian Leslie
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