Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How A Lone American Star Defeated the Soviet Chess Machine

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Mar 1, 2005 - History - 384 pages
9 Reviews

In the summer of 1972, with a presidential crisis stirring in the United States and the cold war at a pivotal point, the Soviet world chess champion, Boris Spassky,and his American challenger, Bobby Fischer, met in Reykjavik, Iceland, for the most notorious chess match of all time. Their showdown, played against the backdrop of superpower politics, held the world spellbound for two months with reports of psychological warfare, ultimatums, political intrigue, cliffhangers, and farce to rival a Marx Brothers film. Thirty years later, David Edmonds and John Eidinow have set out to reexamine the story we recollect as the quintessential cold war clash between a lone American star and the Soviet chess machine. A mesmerizing narrative of brilliance and triumph, hubris and despair, Bobby Fischer Goes to War is a biting deconstruction of the Bobby Fischer myth, a nuanced study on the art of brinkmanship, and a revelatory cold war tragicomedy.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Stbalbach - LibraryThing

Bobby Fischer Goes to War (2004) is fairly boring. Bobby Fischer is an unsympathetic main character and the chess match wasn't hugely exciting. The amount of detail is over the top, most of dealing ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - csayban - LibraryThing

Eight years before the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid, there was a miracle on the island of Iceland, played out on a wooden board with sixty-four squares and thirty-two pieces. It was the chess world ... Read full review


Match of the Century I
Brooklyn Boy
Child of Destruction
The Russian from Leningrad
Living Chess
Bulldozer to Reykjavik
Trouble in Paradise
Rage Rules
Blood in the Back Room
A LoveHate Relationship
Middle Game
Chess Contagion
ExtraChess Means and Hidden Hands
Adversary Partners

Big Contest Little Island
Bobby Is Missing
Whos Sorry Now?
Selective Bibliography

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 188 - I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that "for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about Communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry - and he has his hand on the nuclear button" - and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.
Page 49 - Our goal is to make the life of the Soviet people still better, still more beautiful, and still more happy.
Page 188 - skillful" player may get into the car quite drunk, throwing whisky bottles out the window to make it clear to everybody just how drunk he is. He wears very dark glasses so that it is obvious that he cannot see much, if anything. As soon as the car reaches high speed, he takes the steering wheel and throws it out the window. If his opponent is watching, he has won.
Page 59 - But man is a fickle and disreputable creature and perhaps, like a chess-player, is interested in the process of attaining his goal rather than the goal itself. And who knows, (nobody can say with certainty), perhaps man's sole purpose in this world consists in this uninterrupted process of attainment, or in other words in living, and not specifically in the goal...
Page 247 - He looked exhausted and said he needed to "sleep and sleep and sleep." The New York Times deployed Nietzschean rhetoric in their investigation of what they called "the aura of a killer.
Page 277 - Talks (SALT), the Interim Agreement on Certain Measures with Respect to Strategic Offensive Arms (SALT I), and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Page 59 - Bakhtin reminds us that one of the underground man's "basic ideas, which he advances in his polemic with the socialists, is precisely the idea that man is not a final and defined quantity upon which firm calculations can be made,- man is free, and can therefore violate any regulating norms which might be thrust upon him
Page 51 - harebrained schemes, half-baked ideas and hasty decisions and actions divorced from reality, boasting and empty rhetoric, attraction to rule by fiat, the refusal to take into account all the achievements of science and practical experience." The twentytwo men who now constituted the Politburo and Secretariat of the Central Committee — the control room of the state — had an average age of sixty-two. Born in 1906, Brezhnev himself had been a communist since 1931. The youngest full Politburo member,...
Page 90 - conduct anti-social in nature and fundamentally at variance with the principles and tasks formulated in the charter of the Writers Union," and could not be published in the Soviet Union — his last work was published there in 1966.
Page 75 - I have come to the conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.

About the author (2005)

David Edmonds is an award-winning journalists with the BBC. He's the bestselling authors of Bobby Fischer Goes to War and Wittgenstein’s Poker.

Bibliographic information