Of Dice and Men
The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who
David M Ewalt
This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
The Lord of the Rings meets Moneyball in this unique and authoritative book on Dungeons & Dragons—from the game’s origins through its rise to cultural prominence, and its ripple effect on popular culture today.
Even if you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, you probably know someone who has (whether or not they’re willing to admit it). Released in 1974—decades before video games and the Internet took over the gaming world—Dungeons & Dragons became one of the original nerd subcultures, and is still revered by over thirty million fans today. Now Forbes senior editor David M. Ewalt explores the rich history of the game, revealing the magic that enlivened his youth, and has since re-entered his adult life in a whole new way.
From its roots on the battlefields of ancient Europe, through the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals and teen suicides, and to its apotheosis as father of the modern video game industry, Of Dice and Men recounts the development of a game played by some of most fascinating people in the world. Chronicling the surprising history of D&D’s origins (one largely unknown even to hardcore players) while examining the game’s profound impact, Ewalt weaves laser-sharp cultural analysis with his own present-day gaming experiences.
An enticing blend of history, journalism, narrative and memoir, Of Dice and Men sheds light on America’s most popular (and widely misunderstood) form of collaborative entertainment.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
An excellent read
I should preface this review by saying that I am and have been a gamer since the 6th grade, even earlier if you count the time my mother bought me a boxed D&D entry game in fifth grade. Now, after almost a decade of playing RPG's, I can officially call myself a member of the 'target audience' of this book.
I say 'target audience,' obviously referring to RPG players of any sort, largely out of deference to several ARC readers that implied (or explicitly stated) that gamers were this book's target audience. And, although I am prone to disagreeing with them, I can't do so in good conscience because I am looking at it as one of the 'initiated,' and I'm a decade removed from being uninitiated.
That being said, this book is a delight to read. It is far more than a history of dungeons and dragons, though in some ways it is also a lot less. The history is, in some ways, incomplete. Some of the best stories around (that I've heard from interviews, articles, other books, etc.) don't make the final cut. Instead, the history is more of a story. Actually, it's more like multiple stories, paralleling one another beautifully. David (and I feel like I should be on a first name basis with his after reading this book, despite never having met him, which speaks volumes itself) switches between the narrative of the Dungeons and Dragons game and his own adventures within that system. The stories are funny, tragic, and inspiring. At their core, they are very human stories, and many times, they are very compelling.
The book itself reads like a travelogue/history/autobiography/internal monologue/philosophical treatise in a way that could, conceivably, become a bit cluttered and confusing, but runs so seamlessly that it feels only natural. There's enough geek lingo to put gamers at their ease, but it's all very well defined and sparse enough to be unobtrusive.
The most important thing that I can say about this book is that, as a nerd that frequently dons imaginary armor and shoots dark blasts of eldritch energy from his hands while cackling wildly, this is precisely the book that I would point my uninitiated friends and family towards, if I was trying to explain my strange hobbies to them. It's funny, fun to read, objective (well, as much as one can be), and, most importantly, captures the elusive 'feel' of Dungeons and Dragons.
I would recommend this book to anyone.
A Wonderful Tome
This book sets out to explain the history of a game and a social phenomenon, and largely succeeds. It is well-written, funny, and fairly comprehensive, from the point of view of a casual gamer like me. I would not hesitate to recommend it to my non-geek friends, as an overview of one of my favorite pastimes.
An Interesting Look at the RPG That Changed the World
I wanted to like this book more based on its geeky subject matter and although it had its moments, I found the narrative to be slow at times and slightly boring.
It is definitely great learning the history of D&D, one of the games I played as an early teen in the late 70's.
I would recommend this book simply for its subject matter.