What non-strategy chess books can you reccomend? I'm interested in non-fiction, mostly historical books
In the past week, I've read two non-strategy chess books, both of which are easy to reccomend.
Searching for Bobby Fischer
by Fred Waitzkin
Obviously, the film version has made this story famous among chess players. However, as is typical, the film and book version have considerable differences. Specifically, the film version focuses almost entirely on the Josh Waitzkin, father, and Bruce Pandolfini (Josh's chess teacher) relationships. The book covers quite a bit more, including a trip Fred, Josh, and Bruce take to Moscow during the 1985 match between Karpov and Kasparov.
The Moscow trip takes up about a quarter of the book in which they not only attend games from the match, but also visit a Soviet chess school and political dissident and chess Grandmaster, Boris Gulko. In 1985, the Cold War was still going strong. So, there's plenty if KGBesque intrigue (imagined and real) in the story.
Even when the material in the book matches the film, it's told differently. The book is written by the father and everything is told from his point of view. The story is less about a chess prodigy than it is about how a father deals with having a chess prodigy as a son. Fred Waitzkin became consumed with his son's chess, typical of an over-enthusiastic parent, and the book constantly comes back to whether that's good for him or Josh. The book reveals a lot about 'chess parents' and their often irrational behavior regarding their children.
Bobby Fischer Goes to War
by David Edmonds and John Eidinow
This book is a serious journalistic endeavour to unveil the entire story leading up to, during, and following the 1972 World Championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.
It focuses equally on Fischer and Spassky, giving their biography starting at childhood, introduction to chess, early development as a player, and then their professional careers. Fischer's story was well known to me, including most of his bizarre behavior. Spassky's background was unknown to me and I suspect many others don't know him too well either.
Basically, the book builds up how neither Fischer nor Spassky was a particularly good representative of their countries despite the conventional view that they were symbolic represnetatives of a Cold War clash. Fischer was simply a nut, something which became even more obvious in his retirement years. Spassky considered himself a loyal Russian, but didn't seem to have any real loyalty as a Soviet. He wasn't a Communist Party member and on the occassions he spoke about politics, he often had 'inappropriate' views.
Every little chaotic moment of the actual match is covered, including the x-raying of Fischer's chair, orange juice samples being sent back to Moscow to identify any poisons, and every complaint and protest made by Fischer about every detail of the match.