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Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations Paperback – August 19, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The late R. C. Bell was born in 1917 in Sudbury, Ontario, and came to England in 1928. He qualified MB BS (London) in 1941. He became a plastic surgeon but is now retired. He has a large collection of old games and has written five books in the Shire 'Discovering' series.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Revised edition (1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486238555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486238555
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a great book, although I recommend it more for reference than for reading cover-to-cover. It's been around since 1960 and is certainly a classic in the genre. Among the games it covers are games that will be familiar to most players: Checkers, Chess, Pachisi (aka Parcheesi), Backgammon, and Cribbage. It also covers some that will be familiar to avid gamers: Mancala, Go, Shogi, Nine Men's Morris, Alquerque. Then there is the plethora of games and versions of games that most people have never heard of, either because they are only played in very specific areas of the world, or because they haven't been played in hundreds of years.

All in all, if you can afford the relatively cheap price tag, this game will make a nice addition to your bookshelf. It's not necessarily essential, but it does make for a great reference work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are just SO many games in this book, its really great. They span multiple game styles and also go into many different variations of the same game.

As with other R.C. Bell books, the formatting and print generally isn't the greatest. Also, there is no standard for reporting the rules though it seems like one could have been established for each game type. Sometimes you get a set of rules, and others you get a kind of a verbose walk through pointing out the rules.

A great introductory read for all the games included. I would definitely cross check the rules with other books or online. Many times, especially with games so old as these, there are slight nuances in reported rules, such as the ability to move 3 instead of 4 spaces, or other small balancing issues like that.

I'm generally a big fan of R.C. Bell's game books. This is is the most comprehensive. Discovering Old Board Games is a great tiny book that covers a ton of books, but they are all included in this one too (Board and Table Games is much less portable). Board Games round the World: A Resource Book for Mathematical Investigations is great from him too. It has larger pages and better formatting and pictures, but not any better content then you can get in his other two books.
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Format: Paperback
Board (or table) games have been around for at least 5,000 years and are still going strong. Before the age of the computer they were a primary source of entertainment as far as games go. As an aside, the very first "thing" my wife and I purchase as a couple after we were married was a board game...Monopoly in our case. If I remember right, we paid a little over three dollars for it and it just about broke us.

But this work is not about such games. The author has done a great amount of research and approached his subject in a very scholarly manner. This is as much a history book as it is a work about its subject, games. This study was first published in 1960 in two volumes. The book being reviewed here is both volumes bound into one edition and was first published in that form in 1979.

This work has many strengths and a few weaknesses; depending upon your particular needs and depending upon your particular passion for the subject. I must tell you that for most, this is not a book that you would probably want to read cover to cover as you would a novel. No, this is more of a reference book than anything else. It is, in my opinion, still one of the best books available on the subject, especially if it is used as an introduction or "seed book" to encourage those who have an interest in such matters to seek out and explore other works. This is not a light read by any means and it most certainly is not a book that will teach the reader the absolute rules or subtle nuances of each game it covers. But let me state again, this is not a light weight "fun" book to read. The author is quite serious about his subject and treats it as such. I dare say that if you have no interest in the subject, your eyes will roll to the back of your head as you read this work.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book if your into playing
board games ( the Chess/checkers/Backgammon kind rather than the Monopoly/Careers kind). This book
has 15o+ traditional board games from around the
world, some ancient and many very fun to play!
If your into other cultures or just want something
different to play, its a good book.
A number of ones not in standard American repertoire, in this book:
Go, an unusual oriental game said to be on par with Chess(still unbeaten by computers)
Chinese, Japanese, Burmese and Arab versions of Chess, and the ancient ancestor of them all.
Hnefa-tafl, a clever Viking game
Latrunculi, the Roman's game of intellect
Mancala and co., a very weird and very fun group
of games, called "the National Game of Africa"

OK, I'm outta time here, ya get the idea ;)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Basically THE BEST BOOK on the history of games. If you buy some other book on the history of games, it will just be some guy talking about what R.C. Bell said in this book, seriously. As someone who has written their own book on games, this book was incredibly useful.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite books in my gaming reference library. I enjoy reading about the history of games, and this knowledge has been helpful to me in travels throughout the world. Nearly every location plays some variation of a game described in this book. On many occasions, I have been able to play a game and foster goodwill with the local population based on R.C. Bells great works.

Additionally, there is enough data to allow you to construct and play the games. Many of the academic books are light on practical details.

I have ought and given away five copies of this book, bought through Dover Pubs. I am happy to see that Amazon picked it up.

This is a great book as either a reference or a fun read for game history buff.

In service,

Rich
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