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The Book of Games: Strategy, Tactics & History Hardcover – 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
I bought this book just after Christmas and got 30% off the already very low cover price, for such a large book. I flipped through it in the store and was blown away by the apparent depth (background, rules, strategies etc.) for a wide variety of games.
But as I read more and more of it I became a bit confused about some of the language/writing in the book. It seemed, at times, a bit disjointed and awkward. It wasn't until I really took a close look at the publishing information in the front that I realized this is a translated text... from Spanish into English.
Perhaps the clearest example of where things went wonky is the chapter on poker. Well, the introduction to the chapter talks about the history of card-based poker. But the chapter itself is really about dice poker. The two games are not (at least in my mind) related in any way other than the goal of making certain matches (pairs, flushes, etc.) I can only surmise that the Spanish version was a bit more accurate and that (as my title suggests) the good stuff got lost in translation.
The real problem is that sometimes some of the game suggestions don't make the most sense. And again, I suspect this is because the translator was probably more fluent in the two languages than in the context of the games being written about.
Visually this is a stunning work. There are wonderful pictures from the past of actual games being played and examples of some colorful and beautiful game boards and pieces. But ultimately, this text is really just for those seriously interested in the history of games and with the ability to pull the odd bit of strategy out of the jumble of words that surround the pictures.
The much greater problems are a complete lack of references that would allow further reading and glaring inaccuracies in game descriptions and rules. As to references, there are absolutely none, not even a preface or acknowledgments, no footnotes, no "suggestions for further reading." This book wants to live in a vacuum. Perhaps that's because if the reader were to look at any other references, he or she would find out how poorly researched this book is. (Occasionally there are oblique references to other works embedded in the text. Many of these turn out to be inaccurate or just plain wrong.)
Here are two examples of inaccuracies:
The author has written several books on games and repeatedly gives the wrong rules for Chinese Chess; he clearly has never played with or spoken to anyone who actually plays the game (there are well over a billion such people in the world) or read even one of the many excellent manuals on this game published in most European languages. Instead he continues to publish the incorrect rules and give extensive examples of play using these useless rules. Two people completely ignorant of the game could indeed play each other by these rules and probably enjoy themselves, but they could never play with anyone who actually knows the game.Read more ›
Everything the other reviewers here have said about the problems with translations and the problems with rules are quite accurate. I am used to seeing the author associated with products from Netherlands and nearby areas - so I am not sure why this is a translation from the Spanish, but it reads like it was written in one language, translated into Spanish for publication, and then translated again for this English-language edition.
As to the rules, many are downright wrong. As far as I can tell, none are complete. Even the chapter on Backgammon doesn't include all the rules necessary to play. (for example, no mention of the need to use as much of your roll as possible.) As to history, I would have hoped for this to provide the latest views on who created a game and when - but I find stuff that just seems made up, at least in the areas where I know the relatively recent research.
Unlike other reviewers, I think the artwork/design also fails. Yes there are some pretty pictures scattered through, and the whole thing is printed nicely and colorfully on good paper. But it appears that the developers skimped on the graphic design budget, creating a situation where they, early on, hired someone competent to design a basic template for the pages and then required everything to stick with that. The templates were designed for what that artist thought of as games - square boards.
This emphasis on the square leads to a number of problems.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Judging a book by its cover swings both ways. This is a very pretty book, inside and out. The writing - not so pretty. The facts - often inaccurate and incomplete. Read morePublished 5 months ago by David McCord
I ordered this for daughter. She really enjoyed it. Will buy again from this seler.Published 12 months ago by Marcia allen
This is an excellent reference book. It might not be as thorough as some gamers wish, but I found it to be pretty good, especially for a bargain book.Published on April 23, 2014 by tom
This book is gigantically heavy and well illustrated. It have lots of pictures and is printed on heavy photo paper. Read morePublished on September 30, 2012 by M. A.
A fine book of valued information. Done with the written word, pictures and illustrations. I originally looked at this book in my local library and had to have a copy of my own. Read morePublished on July 24, 2010 by Lucia