Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness
Today I have a guest post from my wonderful husband. I am very lucky because I have a husband who loves books as much as I do, so he understands my obsession. He recently read this book and could not stop talking about it.
Like probably a lot of people, I’d heard of Bobby Fisher but knew almost nothing about him other than the fact that he was a great chess player and disappeared after going somewhat insane. That’s the attitude with which I approached this book when Amanda asked me to look at it. What I found was a very interesting story which shows the rise and fall of a complex character. The first half of the book does a great job of giving a sense of the fast rise of Bobby to prominence as a chess player. The tone of the book conveys well the astonishment of a young chess player from an odd background becoming one of the greatest players of all time. But the book describes very well all the hard work that Bobby Fisher had to invest in the game to achieve that. We see how he had to shut out everything to get to were he got. The reader also gets a glimpse at the oddness of cold war politics in the US and Russia. How the paranoia of communism would get the FBI to investigate a young kid playing chess. This and other revelation were made possible by documents the author had access too such as the FBI file about Fisher’s familly.
In the second half we get to follow Fisher’s descent and the book does a great job of describing the puzzlement of Fisher’s entourage as to his increasingly disturbing behavior. We learn of Fisher’s interest in extreme religion and how he became increasingly racist towards Jews and the pure illogical thinking that he used to justify it. While the first half might make you like the odd but sympathetic young Fisher, the second half will leave you with a completely different view of the man. The book also includes a lot about the people Bobby encountered over his life and those who stood by him even when he was becoming more and more hated around the world for the hate speeches that he made public. After reading the book, I think most will understand that most of those things were not coming from a sane.
In all I really enjoyed the book. The books tagline “Remarkable Risee and fall-- from America’s Brightest Prodigy to edge of madness” is very apt. The book was well done, and the fact that the author personally knew Bobby Fisher most of his life really shows in the book. The image of Bobby Fisher that I got from reading the book was one that was neither negative or positive but of puzzlement and understanding in a way and also of respect for his incredible dedication to learning something. That’s what I found the most interesting about him, we get the image of the little boy genius who just know everything somewhat innately but that’s probably never true and this book dispels that myth about Fisher. This book was well written and very complete. I have to say after reading the book I started to become really interested in chess but frankly I know I’ll never be able to put the time and effort it took Bobby Fisher to achieve his incredible level of skill.
I recommend the book to anyone not just people who like chess. I personally had not played chess in years before I got this book. It’s a great story about a complex character. We get to see the fun exhilarating moments of Bobby Fisher’s life and the darkest one also. Pick up the book when it comes out. 4.5 stars.
***I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.