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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness » User review

A compelling, if skewed, portrait of troubled genius

  • Feb 22, 2011
Rating:
+3
I've been a chess player all my life. The idea of a Bobby Fischer, a brilliant chess player by both instinct and dedication, intrigues me on many levels. But I never really knew who he was.

After reading Endgame, Frank Brady's new biography of Bobby Fischer, I definitely feel I have a better understanding of the man behind the chessboard. I was surprised, in fact, to see that large segments of the book had not much to do with chess at all. Endgame is the story of a boy with a singular talent and a passion to pursue it. It's the story of a young man finding his independence. It's the story of the rise and fall of fame. It's the story of a Jewish boy who comes to deeply hate everything Jewish. It's the story of anger, paranoia, obsessive behavior, and possibly madness.

Of course, there are significant portions about chess and even on particular games. As a chess player, I really enjoyed these parts and especially the description of the "Game of the Century" in 1956, an exciting and detailed retelling of a 14-year old Bobby Fischer defeating Donald Byrne with a queen sacrifice. This game, and all the other chess games and tournaments, are described so that anyone should be able to understand then but chess players should still enjoy them.

Perhaps the only fault of Endgame is that Brady is a little too apologetic of Fischer's less palatable personality quirks. Nearer the end of the book he does describe many of Fischer's radio diatribes and hateful rhetoric, but he does so while glossing over some of it, with the idea that nobody could ever truly understand. 'Endgame' is not an objective view of Fischer as a man or as a player, but clearly written from the perspective of a friend and an admirer. It's a valuable perspective to be sure, but at some of the rougher spots a more objective view might have been preferable.

Endgame should be of interest to anyone who enjoys chess, to be sure. As the story of a man with great talent, great dedication, and a troubled mind, it also makes for an compelling story in general.

As someone who likes chess AND enjoys good stories with complex characters, I found Endgame to be quite good. Perhaps not the work of a master, but certainly someone with a talent for the game.

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March 03, 2011
My husband would enjoy this read. Excellent recommendation!
 
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Rich Stoehr ()
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I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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Wiki

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2011: There may be no one more qualified than Frank Brady to write the definitive biography of Bobby Fischer. Brady'sProfile of a Prodigy(originally published in 1969) chronicled the chess icon's early years, a selection of 90 games, and (in later editions) his 1972 World Championship match with Boris Spassky. WithEndgame, published two years after Fischer's death, Brady's on-and-off proximity to Fischer lends new depth to the latter's full and twisted life story. Though Fischer's pinnacle artistry on the chessboard may often be discussed in the same breath with his eventual paranoia and outspoken anti-Semitism, the particular turns and travels of his post-World Championship years (half his life) lend his story most of its vexing oddity: the niggling insistence on seemingly arbitrary conditions for his matches, the years on the lam after flagrantly disregarding U.S. economic sanctions, his incarceration in Japan, his eventual citizenship and quiet demise in Iceland. All told, Fischer's life was like none other, and told through the lens of Brady's personal familiarity and access to new source material, results in an utterly engaging read. --Jason Kirk

Guest Reviewer: Dick Cavett

Dick Cavett is the host of “The Dick Cavett Show”---which aired on ABC from 1968 to 1975 and on public television from 1977 to 1982---Dick Cavett is the author, most recently, of Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets....

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Details

ISBN-10: 0307463907
ISBN-13: 978-0307463906
Author: Frank Brady
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Entertainment
Publisher: Crown
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