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The Oxford Guide to Card Games: A Historical Survey (original 1990; edition 1990)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192141651, Hardcover)Imported from the Mamluks of Egypt, card games first hit Europe around 1371 and within ten years had spread like wildfire from Spain and Italy to France and Germany. By 1420, German and Swiss cardmakers were producing packs by the thousands (first by stencil, later by metal engraving) marked with a bewildering array of suits, including hounds, bears, parrots, roses, helmets, banners, and bells. Games proliferated as well, and by 1534, Rabelais could name 35 different card games in Chapter 22 of Gargantua. Today, of course, there are thousands of games, from the universally popular Poker and Contract Bridge, to national manias such as Swiss Jass, German Skat, and French Belote.
Now, in The Oxford Guide to Card Games, internationally renowned game expert David Parlett provides a fascinating historical guide to cards in Europe and America. Unlike other books, this is not primarily a book of rules or hints on how to play better, but a unique survey of where the games originated, how they have developed over time, and what their rituals and etiquette tell us about the people who play them. Parlett discusses such ancient games as Karnoffel (German for "hernia"), in which the King could be captured by cards named Pope, Kaiser, Devil, and Karnoffel (this subversive ranking was decried by civic authorities and Karnoffel was even banned in Augsburg in 1446, but it was very popular among soldiers and workers). We learn that the term "Bower" in Euchre comes from the German word Bauer (Boer in Dutch), which means "farmer" or "Jack," and that Poker comes from the German word Pocher, which means "bash" or "pulverize" or "brag" (Poker is, as Parlett points out, ultimately a bragging game, in which players boast--or bet--that their hand is best). And we follow the rise and fall of such games as Piquet, which was once far and away the best loved game in Europe, and Canasta, which became a world-wide phenomenon in the 1950s, for a while rivaling Contract Bridge in popularity.
The first book to explore the history of cards in the West, this attractively illustrated volume is both informative and entertaining. Whether your favorite game is Poker or Pinocle, Cribbage or Gin, Contract Bridge or Crazy Eights, you will find much here to fascinate and amuse.
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:45 -0400)
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