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Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It Paperback – 1 Oct 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; Reprint edition (1 Oct. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145164051X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451640519
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Title: Of Dice and Men( The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It) <>Binding: Paperback <>Author: DavidM.Ewalt <>Publisher: ScribnerBookCompany

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This made for a very interesting read and also gave me lots of great insight into the world of D&D and where it all started and has moved to.
If you are a fan of D&D and the world created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson then this will make for a great read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For all RPG fans who wandered from the path over the years this is a great tale that both brings you right up to date and reminds you of the roots of the game that stole so many hours of your youth.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent and engaging read. Whether you're into D&D or not.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 143 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Geekdom 101 21 Aug. 2013
By James Palmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a good book, but at points I wondered whether it wasn't really two potentially better books fused into one. It's well-written, funny, and when it comes to the difficult task of capturing exactly what goes on in a gaming session, and why it's awesome, it does it very well. But it has to tackle too much; it is, simultaneously, an introduction to tabletop gaming and the state of the industry nowadays *and* a history of TSR and the creation of D&D itself. Honestly, TSR's history, complete with the backstabbing, culture clashes, and the genial weirdness of the small-town Midwest that spawned early gaming culture, could really be a full-length business classic itself, and there's only intriguing hints of that here.

I'm not certain how much value experienced gamers will get out of this, other than a "Hey, I know those guys!" But it's definitely a perfect gift for befuddled significant others.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A Critical Hit! 3 Sept. 2013
By Wulfstan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
David M Evalt is like me- a gaming geek. Yes, we both play D&D (well, not so much anymore for me, but...). Here he has penned an exciting, readable, and fun history of Dungeons & Dragons along with quite a bit on how it FEELS to play it, as opposed to HOW to play it.

Now, yes, this has been done before- in the comprehensive giant volume called Playing at the World (which is so complete it even covers my little contribution to gaming history.). But, even tho that book is scholarly and encyclopedic it is mostly of interest to super fans and it is not a fast read by any means.

David's book is the opposite- not comprehensive but a fast and fun page turner. It cover the high-lights (and some of the low-lights, David is not afraid to dish some dirt) of the History of D&D and also throws in some interesting tidbits about how the game feels to play and how it feels to be a player, including the authors personal journey as a D&D geek.

This book is perfect for someone who's son/husband/granddaughter etc is into D&D and who wants to know more about what they are so into and why. It's also a good read for a gamer who just wants a fun and fast overview of how D&D came to be.

Readable, entertaining.
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
This book rolled an 11 26 Aug. 2013
By William A Powell Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An 11 is a solid roll if you have some additional abilities to bump it, but by itself it isn't going to hit anything of consequence. It is a book that could have been much better had it stuck to one story or another. It alternates between the author reconnecting with the game, and also a brief history of D&D. I was hoping for much more substance in the history of the game sections, and less about the actual game play.

If you have never played the game and have a curiosity about what goes on at a gaming table, this book will be entertaining. If you have played for any length of time however, it comes off as that guy at the gaming convention that has to share tales of his last game he played to everyone at the table even though you had to be there to really enjoy it.

This was a light read, glad I bought the cheaper kindle version but I am really disappointed in the content.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A partial history of D&D 1 Sept. 2013
By Tom Braun - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a difficult book for me to review, because as a D&D nerd it's hard not to have a lot of Opinions on it. My inner geek found plenty of nits to pick with this book: annoyance with the casual dismissals of the versions of the game the author didn't personally play (2nd and 4th edition, primarily) and a wish that the author would have dived deeper into some of the historical bits (the whys and hows of the 'satanic panic' of the 80's are skimmed) are chief among them. The post-Gygax years of TSR and the release of 2nd Edition or any setting the author hasn't played (Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Eberron) are also conspicuous by their absence.

So let me review this as a writer. From that perspective I also found this book somewhat lacking. The author centers the book around his own personal journey with tabletop roleplaying games. Chapters alternate between the history and business of the game and the author's own stories. The latter are interspersed with dramatic prose-style descriptions of games the he has played in. At first this is fun, but it quickly wears out its welcome to the point where I found myself skipping the endless paragraphs of italicized purple prose. What works well for, say, the read-aloud text for a D&D campaign is tiresome in a non-fiction book.

And while I understand the David Ewalt is using his personal experiences to make the topic accessible, it has the result of making him the main character of this book. And he's one I tired of quickly.

There are also the cliched 'lessons to be learned' from every single experience, something that really annoys me in non-fiction books. In life not every event is pregnant with meaning. Attempting to find personal revelation in everything just to fit a narrative feels extremely forced, and Ewalt does this in spades.

Finally, and I just have to get this out there, as a Fourth Edition player it's clear to me that the author has never so much as even skimmed a rulebook, and is going entirely off what he's heard and read elsewhere. Some of the things he was oohing and ahhing over about D&D Next had me rolling my eyes. "Yeah, you could do that in 4e dude." I will grant the author his personal preferences, but I think if you're going to write a book about the history of D&D you could pretend to have at least a modicum of objectivity.

Nerd wars aside, I did learn some things. Ewalt does a good job introducing us to the personalities involved in creating D&D between 1970 and 1980. Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and many of the lesser known (but still important) players get full treatment.

For someone looking for a light, quick introduction to what Dungeons & Dragons is, how it got started, and why it's important to millions of people the world over, this book is probably worth picking up. But if you have more than a passing knowledge of the game, you can probably safely skip it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
No Shame in D&D! 26 Aug. 2013
By David - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Ewalt's book isn't really aimed at gamer's, though they are the people most likely to buy it. The intended reader is the friend or spouse of a D&D (or other role playing game)gamer a little about the world, to show we are not wearing cloaks and sitting in candle lit rooms performing strange rites. An admirable goal, but one where he falls short.

Ewalt's book is really two concurrent stories, one of which is the professional journalist exploring the history and culture of Dungeons and Dragons the other is a player of Dungeons and Dragons exploring his own conflicted feelings about that same culture. David Ewalt the journalist is engaging, entertaining and objective. If his history isn't comprehensive, it captures what is relevant and captivating about the rise and fall of the game's creators. The author's tone is warm and his enthusiasm for the subject is obvious. Sadly, David Ewalt the D&D player is more problematic. Throughout the story, he describes himself as embarrassed or ashamed to be playing the very game he is attempting to make less "geeky". He goes further to describe the game as "addictive" and characterize his interest in the game "obsessive". These are not new stereotypes to the game, and one's gamer have battled over the four decades since the release of the game. In a book trying to push back against those misconceptions, the author really shouldn't feature them as part of his own experience. Also, and this purely a personal quibble, you can't tell the reader that D&D players aren't as nerdy as society makes them out to be and then make a joke about how nerdy we are in the next breath.

While it's is likely normal to feel a sense of conflict about how D&D players are viewed in society and the silly things people believe about the game, if you wish to write a defense of the culture you should really spend more time debunking them. Perhaps when I was 15 years old, I felt some sort of shame when came to admitting I played games with dragons and elves, as an adult I don't. My dragons and elves are no different than a group of grown adults pretending they are in control of a major league sport's franchise, drafting and playing athletes. I have no shame, I play D&D, neither should you David!

I enjoyed Ewalt's book all things considered. I found his recounting of his own play in the game to highlight the best parts of the how the game is played. His objective view of the Gygax/Arneson divide was a pleasure to read and his metaphor on their collaboration (Jobs and Wozniak, the best comparison with the creators of D&D I've heard yet) focused on their creation not their feud. He was even even handed when it came to Lorraine Williams, the person most universally considered the villain of the story, at least by the players of the time.

But, I still couldn't recommend this book to someone who asks me to explain Dungeons and Dragons and the culture of it spawned. I wanted to love this book, anything which talks about a game I love is going to at least be read. Sadly, I don't want anyone ever thinking D&D is something to be ashamed of.
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