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The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Genuises Who Make Up America's Top HighSchool Chess Team Hardcover – March 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Weinreb, whose work has appeared three times in The Best American Sports Writing, offers the story of a year spent with Brooklyn's Edward R. Murrow High School chess team as it strives for a national championship. Weinreb makes several choices that work well for a year-in-the-life account. For one, he eschews unnecessary speculation about the teen chess prodigies' psychology, a strategy that taken with his deft reporting of how they view themselves and one another renders them more accessible, more natural and consequently more interesting. Weinreb also expands his arena by investigating the cultural milieu of the modern chess world. He describes what it takes to be a successful high-level chess player, the difficulties women have in this world, the very nature of the game and the phenomenon of the chess prodigy, using the experience of Josh Waitzkin, who has now retired from competitive chess and was the subject of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. All this is supported by well-chosen detail, intelligence and terrific writing. Weinreb clearly develops an affection for the eclectic members of the team, and because of the skill he brings to his project, so will his readers. B&w illus. (Mar. 1)
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The Kings of New York is about chess in the same way that Darcy Frey's The Last Shot was about basketball. Michael Weinreb's real subjects are the nature of talent, the onset of adolescence, and the kingdom of Brooklyn. This is a wonderful book. -- Mark Kriegel, author of Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich and Namath: A Biography

The Kings of New York isn't so much a book about high school chess as it is an unforgettable journey into the blessing and curse of adolescent genius. With a narrative rich in voice-a gathering of intoxicating characters-Michael Weinreb has delivered nothing short of a generational classic. This is a stunning book. You won't soon forget it. -- Adrian Wojnarowski, author of The Miracle of St. Anthony

Michael Weinreb has done a heroic job doing something once thought impossible-making an eminently readable topic out of chess. Part Word Freak, part Season on the Brink, The Kings of New York is a gripping inside look at an endearingly quirky subculture. -- L. Jon Wertheim, author of Transition Game and Venus Envy

Writing with the deft, propulsive style of a young Frank Deford, Michael Weinreb has captured both the intellectual insanity-and the curious normalcy-of what it's like to be a teenaged super-genius. The Kings of New York is the Friday Night Lights of high school chess. -- Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Chuck Klosterman IV

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; 1 edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592402615
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592402618
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,328,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Weinreb is the author of four books, including Season of Saturdays: A History of College Football in 14 Games, which was named one of the best books of 2014 by Newsweek and He is also the author of The Kings of New York (paperback title: Game of Kings), which won the Quill Award as the Best Sports Book of 2007, was named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly, and The Christian Science Monitor, and was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice; Bigger Than the Game: Bo, Boz, the Punky QB, And How the '80s Created the Modern Athlete; and Girl Boy Etc., a short-story collection. He has been a regular contributor to a number of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including The New York Times, ESPN, GQ, Grantland, Vice, and Rolling Stone. His work has also been anthologized in the Best American Sports Writing collection. He lives in San Francisco.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn has been a successful progressive school, whether despite or because of its mixture of Puerto Rican and black students along with immigrants from Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. It has been a radical experiment in public education, allowing pupils to skip classes and to make up their own schedules, curricula, or independent study projects. There has been a high level of student graduation and subsequent enrollment in college. The school might now be succumbing to No Child Left Behind mediocrity because it is being forced to admit students who are refugees from neighboring schools that have been closed due to failing their evaluations, but one of its brightest successes has been its chess team. The team won its first NYC championship in 1989 and has gone on to national championships. This meant that they were up against lots of other schools with teams that could afford tutors or chess camps during the summers. _The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Geniuses Who Make Up America's Top High School Chess Team_ (Gotham Books) thus has the dependable appeal of a David vs. Goliath story, as sportswriter Michael Weinreb followed the striving, scrappy students while they aimed toward another national championship. Though the book conveys excitement in the competition, as any sports book ought to, it is most rewarding in its picture of awkward teens being able to fasten onto something meaningful before turning into adults.

The Murrow team is the brainchild of Eliot Weiss, a former hockey player, ski instructor, beer vendor, and taxi driver who more than anything else wanted to be a math teacher. He does some coaching and teaching, but plenty of his students are far better players than he is.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Eskychesser on May 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When I received a review copy of this book I will admit I was nervous of a couple things. First, there were some odd reviews here at Amazon that mentioned negativity and second I had to wonder between Waitzkin's 'Searching For Bobby Fischer' and Sawaski's novel 'The Chess Team' could the author bring me something new and different about scholastic chess. Weinreb really had his work cut out for him when I openend the book. In the end though, he met or exceeded all of my expectations and comes out with a rating of 5 stars! I'm not sure where the negativity originated, posssibly rivals of Murrow (the school depicted in the book) or what not, but Weinreb is clearly a darn good writer. There were a couple of typos in the manuscript, however, certainly nothing that blocked the flow or anything like that. His writing is clear, concise and he has an entertaining voice. The book was highly original. Nobody has ever followed a high school chess team before. Weinreb not only follows the team on chess tournaments, he digs in deep. He tells about the school and all the people around the school. Further, he tells about the chess world these kids are involved in and many of the figures and personalities it accompanies as well. He explains things that may not be clear to newcomers and he gives a solid history of what has happened to not just the players, but for scholastic chess in general. I have been a scholastic chess player and chess coach for almost three decades of my life and even I learned a thing or two about Murrow's process. The only tick I had with the book was some of the profanity that was used. Although it was done tastefully, and is correct journalism and Weinreb did his job keeping things 'real' ...Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Liberty VINE VOICE on May 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a book about chess; this is a book about a teacher, a mild obsession, the impact of a profound interest on a city school, and how all of that can come together to make a huge difference.

It is also a prime example of how good writing can take an interesting story and turn it into a gripping book. This is the Stand and Deliver of board games, and it is great fun (especially if you like chess and/or you are from Brooklyn, and/or you grew up there). I had a great time reading it.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Wan on April 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Background: Michael Weinreb spent a year with the chess team of Edward Murrow High School in New York City, NY, USA. The school chess team is quite strong and has been for a number of years. Weinreb relates the story of one year's squad and their season to the finals at the National Scholastic Championships. This is a public high school, that is, it is not private and accepts students from its geographical area. Schools in the USA which are public suffer often from underfunding, overcrowding and lack of supplies and support. The school actually is fairly advanced in allowing a lot of self-organized time for the students. Unfortunately not all of the students have the organization and focus to make the most of these freedom. Many of the kids come from tough backgrounds and chess for many of them represents a very positive example of something they can do with their minds, will, and ambition - something which is recognized and in some cases tangibly rewarded. Weinreb does a nice job capturing the us versus them feeling of the some of the team members and the sharp contrast between these kids, whose parents work and toil for a living and kids who attend the expensive private schools in Manhattan. It aspires to be like Feinstein's "Season on the Brink" as an insider's view into NY City Scholastic chess.

Good Points: Gives a nice feel for the personal rivalries and touchy egos among the players. Also helps explain why there are actually two different philosophies at work - sometimes allied, sometimes at odds. There are educators who hope chess will serve as an example of how hard work, study and focus can show kids that their minds can be developed and become a way to a either better paying jobs in life or a deeper and better appreciation of the world around them.
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