The Immortal Game 

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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)  

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

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

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

"Fascinating . . . [Shenk] writes about chess history with contagious zest."
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer  

"Shenk weaves a masterful tale that all readers can enjoy, no matter how little they know about chess."
-- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  

"Fun, factual, and a good read . . . Not a reference book to be stored on a shelf [but] a book to be read and enjoyed, and even read again . . . buy this book!"
-- Chess Life magazine  

"Besides detailing chess's broader social significance, Shenk brings it to life with tales of its personal impact . . . Shenk's passion will leave readers yearning to play."
-- Fast Company  

"A globe-spanning, brain-stretching social history . . . Shenk's curiosity equips the reader to look at a board of chess pieces and understand what got them there and the endless places they could go."
-- Paste Magazine  


  The Immortal Game, by David Shenk  (Five Stars!) 

Having recently obtained a copy of this just this past week, I immediately set about reading it.

First of all, this is NOT a chess book! What I mean by this, this is not the kind of book the average chess player buys. It is not a book to help you improve; it is not a book about openings, middlegames or endgames. It’s not a book about eliminating mistakes or helping you to increase your rating. So why would you buy this book? JUST FOR THE SHEER FUN OF IT!!!

What is this book? I would say it is part a history lesson, and it is also a look at one of the greatest chess games ever played. It is also an entertaining look at some of the great players of the past and an examination of why a game like chess has survived for over 1000 years when so many other games have come and gone. Even deeper, it is a book on philosophy and how ideas and concepts are formed and perhaps what part chess has played in the overall development of human history.

I am sure that historians will pass this book off as bunk, that scientists will slam it as gestalt, in short – I expect all the “so-called” experts in their respective fields will dismiss this book out of hand. I also want to go on record as predicting that it will become an all-time best seller.

Why? Because it is so brilliantly written! All the other articles and books on chess are nothing more than a tiresome collection of facts; you are bored with them five minutes after you have picked them up. But this is a book you will not want to put down. It makes for interesting reading, and you do not have to be a chess player to understand it. David takes you by the hand, and leads you on an adventure, providing you with everything that you need to know along the way. I used to hold my nose during history class, and I was jilted by the traditional academic courses, but once I picked this book up, I could not let go of it. It is truly engaging!!

In the end, David uses chess as a lens on life, examining nearly everything we know about ourselves and what we have learned collectively as a species. He uses chess to bring this all into focus and links it all together in a very fascinating way.

This is a book you should buy and give to every non-chess-playing friend that you have out there! Maybe everyone won’t love it … that’s a distinct possibility. But I am sure that everyone who takes the time to read this book will have a good time, and if you are not real careful, you will even learn something along the way!

      -  A.J. Goldsby I  (Sept. 16, 2006) 

PS - I am briefly mentioned in this book. David used my notes to this game as the basis for all of his notes on game # 4 in Appendix II. (Pg. # 272) 


Click  HERE  to read my review on     Click  HERE  to buy this book from USCF.  

Read (or listen) to this article on National Public Radio.     Read  Katie Hafner's book review for the "New York Times." 


David Shenk, in an e-mail to me on September 17th, (2006) said:  << The book is meticulously researched and its facts are carefully documented. >> and  << I'm not saying the book is perfect, and perhaps errors will be found and corrected. But the history is sound, and the book is a serious piece of scholarship and history. >>  

I buy this, 100 per cent!  My comments were only made thinking about some "so-called, self-appointed, chess historians," who have indicated that they thought there were some errors in the book. Perhaps I was "over-anticipating" when I made my comments, {in the book review, given above}, but I simply did not want to portray myself as some highly educated, self-appointed, all-wise expert - who was completely endorsing the science and the history of this book. 

How chess can sharpen your wits  

28.09.2006  Best-selling author David Shenk has written the definitive work on Alzheimer's – The Forgetting. Now he has published a book on chess, "The Immortal Game: How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science and the Human Brain." ABC News invited him for an interview on the subject of chess and Alzheimer's.  [more]  

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This page was created on Saturday, September 16th, 2006.  It was last updated or edited on: Saturday, July 14, 2012 02:16 AM .  

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