I initially had some doubts about this book. After all, Seirawan, who was the top American player for so long, played the world champions. "So what?" I thought. Many other players have played many world champions. However, I have also long thought that his game annotations in his books, in his magazine and various other places, were superb, so I thought I'd give it a try.
My reaction? WOW!! What a great book!
First, let's get the games themselves out of the way. Seirawan takes every single game he played in his career against a world champion beginning with Smyslov and right through Kasparov (he did not play Botvinnik or Fischer, although the latter has a special chapter because of Fischer's special place in chess and the special connection Seirawan made with Fischer in 1992).
His annotations are excellent. Usually more explanatory text that dense variations, they can be followed by any player, regardless of strength, and will benefit all. That alone would have made this a great book. But Seirawan did not stop there.
For every champion, the author goes into what I can only describe as a fascinating "story-telling mode." Lest we forget how well respected and well connected Seirawan was/is with his contemporaries, the stories and anecdotes that he relates are wonderful. Each champion is given an extensive introduction and discussion, while the chess politics and other events of the day are also presented to give the reader a complete sense of the not only Seirawan's opponent, but the atmosphere surrounding the games. The tapestry so well woven is a masterpiece.
The result is surely Seirawan's opus magnum, which in fact is saying something, since his works (e.g., the "Winning Chess" series, his book on the Kasparov-Karpov matches, No Regrets, etc., etc.) are already well respected.
The only thing that would have made this outstanding work even better would have been photographs. My guess is that Everyman Chess (the publisher) is not favorably disposed to photographs in their books. Kasparov's famous My Great Predecessors series would also have benefited from photos. Alas, there are none.
Be that as it may, this book should take its place next to classics such as Zurich 1953 by Bronstein and Tal-Botvinnik 1960 by Tal. It is that good. Period.