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White King and Red Queen How the Cold War was Fought on the Chessboard by Daniel Johnson

White King and Red Queen How the Cold War was Fought on the Chessboard

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White King and Red Queen How the Cold War was Fought on the Chessboard by Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson's gripping account of the Cold War reveals that, for the Soviet Union, chess was more than just a game: it was war by another means. The game had become the national sport, taught in schools, and those with talent were moulded into champions from a young age. Soviet players dominated international competitions throughout the Cold War years. White King and Red Queen illuminates the lives and times of the players and matches at the forefront of this confrontation, from the famous 1972 encounter between American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer and Soviet champion Boris Spassky; to the struggle between anti-Communist Viktor Korchnoi and loyal Kremlin supporter Anatoly Karpov; to the emergence of Garry Kasparov, the last Soviet world champion. It offers a dramatic new perspective on the post-war struggle for supremacy between the superpowers.


'Chess is the ultimate game of political intrigue. In this fascinating story of Cold War espionage and chess rivalry, Daniel Johnson penetrates a Byzantine world to create a gripping portrait of power, espionage, politics and chess in the murky world of the Cold War.'
Simon Sebag

-Montefiore Well researched and refreshingly lively... Johnson reveals not only his sure grasp of the political history, but a remarkable ability to make even the most complex chess matches exciting... His book is a major contribution to our understanding of cultural warfare during the Cold War, and a gentle introduction to the rigours of those 64 chequered squares. - Michael Burleigh, Evening Standard

About the Author

Daniel Johnson is a former literary editor for The Times, and a former foreign correspondent, columnist and associate editor for the Daily Telegraph. He writes the weekly Letter from London column for the New York Sun and is Editor of Standpoint magazine. Daniel Johnson is a strong chess amateur, and once drew an exhibition game with Garry Kasparov. White King and Red Queen is his first book.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st May 2008


Daniel Johnson

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Atlantic Books


400 pages


International relations



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