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Bobby Fischer Goes to War

Since 1948, the USSR had dominated the World Chess Championships - evidence, Moscow claimed, of the superiority of the Soviet system. But then came Bobby Fischer. A dysfunctional genius, Fischer was uniquely equipped to take on the Soviets. His every waking hour was devoted to the game and he had steamrollered all opposition to reach the championship. When he became increasingly volatile, Henry Kissinger telephoned Fischer and urged him on to fight for his country. Against him was Boris Spassky: complex, sensitive, the most un-Soviet of champions. As the authors reveal, when Spassky began to lose, the KGB decided to help him to fight back.
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Bobby Fischer Goes to War by David Edmonds and John Eidinow details the occasion when Bobby Fischer met Boris Spassky in one of the most thrilling and politically charged chess matches of all time.


About the Author

David Edmonds is a senior research associate at Oxford's Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and a multi-award winning radio producer for the BBC World Service. He co-founded the popular philosophy podcast Philosophy Bites with Nigel Warburton and has published several titles associated with that podcast, along with his works co-authored with John Eidinow. John Eidinow was a presenter/interviewer for BBC Radio 4 and World Service radio, working in news and current affairs and making documentaries on historical and contemporary issues. He has published three books with his co-author David Edmonds, and one - Another Day, alone. Their co-authored books are the best-selling Wittgenstein's Poker (2001), which was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and translated into over thirty languages, Bobby Fischer Goes to War (2004), which was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize. Their most recent work is Rousseau's Dog (2006).


The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was conducted on numerous fronts, with the chess contest between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky being one of the strangest. Edmonds and Eidinow, who earlier brought us the innovative Wittgenstein's Poker, have now teamed up to write a sprightly narrative about the famous 1972 championship match in Reykjavik, Iceland, between the mercurial and eccentric Fischer and his quiet and long-suffering Soviet opponent Spassky, the reigning world chess champion. Fischer showed up late and consistently complained about everything from the size of the chessboard to the type of transportation he was provided. In the middle of it all, Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's national security adviser, would phone Fischer to offer encouragement, thus indicating that this was more than a simple chess match: it was a titanic battle between two ideologies and two political systems. This engagingly written book delves into the arcane world of international chess and into the peculiar minds of the men who fought mightily over those 64 black-and-white squares. And, believe it or not, it is a real page-turner! Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/03.]-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Tsoutsouvas turns in a steady, suitably understated performance of this eminently engrossing account of the 1972 world championship chess match between the eccentric American challenger Bobby Fischer and the then-reigning Soviet title holder Boris Spassky. Edmonds and Eidinow (Wittgenstein's Poker) explore not only the widely variant backgrounds of each of the players, but also the nuances of the Cold War societies that produced them. The political wrangling on both sides-coupled with Fischer's outrageous, often petulant demands-turn what might have been a humdrum tale of logistics and chess analysis into a vibrant carnival of human stubbornness, ego and, occasionally, brilliance. Tsoutsouvas reads in a level, largely unembellished style, but his approach suits this sober text. And while characterization is not a highlight of the reading, Tsoutsouvas, with his natural baritone, can't resist a pass at some of the Russian accents or the voice of Henry Kissinger, which he does admirably. It all makes for a fitting rendition of this intriguing take on the forbearance and political gamesmanship it took to get two grown men to sit down across a table from one another and play a game. Simultaneous release with the Ecco hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 8, 2003). (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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