No, you don't need to love chess to admire this book. You don't even have to know how to play it. The author traces the long (over 1500 years) history of chess and analyzes its impacts on the way we think, plan, strategize and abstract the real world.
His main question is: how could 32 carved pieces, on a 64 square board have so much impact on human intelligence? While tackling this question, Shenk covers other issues, such as:
- Does chess really help in planning and executing real war strategies?
- Why are so many chess grandmasters driven to mental illness?
- Why was chess used as a propaganda tool by dictatorial regimes?
- Does the child "chess prodigy" really exist, or is it just hard work mixed with myth?
Along the way, the book managed to rekindle my interest in chess, history, religion and the human psyche. Give it a try and you won't regret it. A link can be found on the left - as always.