Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pg. 69: "The Immortal Game"

David Shenk's The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science and the Human Brain was featured yesterday at The Page 69 Test.

From the publisher's synopsis:
A surprising, charming, and ever-fascinating history of the seemingly simple game that has had a profound effect on societies the world over.

Why has one game, alone among the thousands of games invented and played throughout human history, not only survived but thrived within every culture it has touched? What is it about its thirty-two figurative pieces, moving about its sixty-four black and white squares according to very simple rules, that has captivated people for nearly 1,500 years? Why has it driven some of its greatest players into paranoia and madness, and yet is hailed as a remarkably powerful intellectual tool? [read more of the synopsis]

Here is a sample of the considerable praise the author is enjoying:

"A thrilling tour... an engaging, colorful look at a world that blissfully remains black-and-white."
Entertainment Weekly

"Shenk, a spry writer... [offers] a strong case for the game's bewitching power."
The New York Times

"Fresh and fascinating... a world-spanning story [Shenk] relates with skill and verve."
Chicago Sun-Times

"Before reading David Shenk's wonderful new book, I had at best a casual interest in chess. It seemed too ancient to untangle, too complex to decipher with any real appreciation. But Shenk, in a book filled with daring moves and cunning patience, has made a believer out of me."
—Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics

"I loved this book. Full of burning enthusiasm for the greatest intellectual game in the world, it shows just what can happen when an accomplished author, full of fire and passion, tackles a most wonderful and intricate story. Like a great chess game, this is an achievement that will be talked about for many years to come."
—Simon Winchester, author of A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 and The Professor and the Madman

Read an excerpt and check out how the page 69 test served the book.

David Shenk's most recent article for Slate is "The Survivalist Returns: What's wrong with the CDC's new pandemic planning guide."

--Marshal Zeringue