As a child, Paul Hoffman lost himself in chess. The award-winning author of the international bestseller The Man Who Loved Only Numbers played to escape the dissolution of his parents’ marriage, happily passing weekends with his brilliant bohemian father in New York’s Greenwich Village, the epicenter of American chess.
But he soon learned that such single-minded focus came at a steep price, as the pressure of competition drove him to the edge of madness.
As an adolescent, Hoffman loved the artistic purity of the game -- and the euphoria he felt after a hard-fought victory -- but he was disturbed by the ugly brutality and deceptive impulses that tournament chess invariably brought out in his opponents and in himself.
Plagued by strange dreams in which attractive women moved like knights and sinister men like bishops, he finally gave up the game entirely in college, for the next twenty-five years.
In King’s Gambit, Hoffman interweaves gripping tales from the history of the game and revealing portraits of contemporary chess geniuses into the emotionally charged story of his own recent attempt to get back into tournament chess as an adult -- this time without losing his mind or his humanity. All the while, he grapples with the bizarre, confusing legacy of his own father, who haunts Hoffman’s game and life.
Paul Hoffman, author of 'The Man Who Loved Only Numbers' and Wings of Madness, has been a special correspondent for Good Morning America and CBS This Morning. He was president of Encyclopaedia Britannica and editor-in-chief of Discover. He lives in Woodstock, New York.
Jared Diamond, author of 'Guns, Germs and Steel': "If you enjoy playing chess, this will be the most fascinating, best-written book you have ever read."
People Magazine: "The author's thorough study of the sport is rife with backstabbing, suicide and adultery. The sum is a story readers will find fascinating."
Newsday: "As jagged, passionate and methodical as the game itself. In essay-like chapters Hoffman ranges over the great subjects of chess: chess as war strategy, the challenge of computers, the domination of the Russians, the emergence of women players, chess-world politics, and so on."
ChessLife: "Deftly interweaves Hoffman's personal history -especially a troubled relationship with a brilliant father who the author finally judged to be a pathological liar- with first-hand reports from important chess events an in-depth portraits of chess personalities." Praise for Paul Hoffman:
Oliver Sacks on 'The Man Who Loved Only Numbers': "Marvelous ... vivid and strangely moving."
The New York Times on 'Wings of Madness': "Brilliantly told ... An unforgettably good book told with compassion and sympathy."