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Oxford History of Board Games by David…

Oxford History of Board Games

by David Parlett

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A little dry at times, but a good read if you're interested in board games. (I have to say, I might advise skipping right past the chapters on racing and chase games. Some interesting things there, but not games that you'll want to hunt down probably).

One odd note is that this book feels like it was written closer to the 80s than the late 90s. I suspect that earlier drafts of this work existed about when the author wrote on card games in the 80s and it was revised before being published. (Some of the citations do refer to newer research and games).

Some warnings:

The book focuses mostly on two player abstract games, which is fine with me as I love those. Sadly due to the printing it misses some interesting ones like the gipf series.

If you're not a board game buff or fan, don't expect a lot of time spent on games you know. (I find that when people say "usual board games" they mean monopoly, scrabble, clue/cluedo and then from there they typically actually know games that just are happenstance of generational and region preferences. They typically don't realize this though.) Also, it has a slight slant towards British publishing and games, but I didn't really notice it that much. (For example, there's plenty of nods to Sid Sackson, the notable American game designer and collector). There's less actual bias towards British games given the fact it's an Oxford University Press book.

Card games are not covered in this book, which is a bit of a pity. There's plenty of card games that don't use a traditional deck that are ignored by most history of card games. They get sidelined here as well.

This book seems harder to find than it should be, It would be really nice to get a reprint w/ perhaps with some updates. ( )
  JonathanGorman | Feb 4, 2013 |
The title is somewhat misleading; I had thought it referred to classic board games in America such as Monopoly and Scrabble. Instead, it references classic games of strategy such as dice and versions of backgammon (and many others), categorizing them by format. The few illustrations, by the way, are paltry and disappointingly bland. The text is fine, although fairly dry and scholastic. ( )
  burnit99 | Feb 15, 2007 |
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"Particularly illuminating is his overarching taxonomy: Backgammon is a 'race game', Othello is a 'space game', and chess is a 'displace game'."
added by Edward | editThe Guardian, Steven Poole (Mar 27, 1999)
"…I am left to wonder what might have been if the slightly stuffy attitude had been left behind at the editor's desk, if 'board games' meant more than the ubiquitous abstract games, and if the arbitrary portcullis hadn't been lowered in 1980. That indeed would have been a wonderful volume. As it is, this History is just a very good one."
"Parlett delves into pedantic detail on dozens of games, yet completely fails to provide an historical framework for most of them (Checkers, Chess, Backgammon, and Go being notable exceptions). … There is no story here, only a dry series of facts with an extremely narrow focus."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192129988, Hardcover)

For thousands of years, people have been planning attacks, captures, chases, and conquests--in short, they've been playing board games. Now, in The Oxford History of Board Games, David Parlett investigates the myriad board games that have developed through the ages and around the world.
Here are the origins and development of our favorite games, from the Egyptian and Asian ancestors of Chess, Checkers, and Backgammon, to the invention of such modern classics as Monopoly, Clue, and Scrabble. Parlett groups the games in different families--such as those based on races or chases, wars or hunts, capture or blockade--and then provides a fascinating history of each family. Throughout the book, Parlett pays close--indeed, loving--attention to traditional games, the charming folk entertainments that have grown up through the centuries, and which exhibit endless local variations. Likewise, he devotes enthusiastic coverage to lesser-known and experimental games. Thus the book is no mere catalog of the familiar, but takes the reader into a world a games they have never known before. And not only does he describe the rules and strategies of the games, but Parlett also draws on 20 year's experience as a professional games researcher, critic, and inventor, to offer many perceptive insights into the thinking involved in creating these games. And, finally, Parlett also illuminates the significance of game-playing as a central part of human experience--as vital to a culture as its music, dance, and literature.
Written with great affection and authority, and beautifully illustrated with period art and helpful diagrams that show the finer points of the games, this is a fascinating and accessible guide to a richly rewarding subject.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:31 -0400)

Focuses mainly on different families of traditional games and folk entertainments, with some discussion of rules and strategies.

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