Edmonds, David 1964-
EDMONDS, David 1964-
Office—BBC World Service, Bush House, Strand, London WC2B 4PH, England. Agent—Jacqueline Korn (literary) and Georgina Ruffhead (film), David Higham Associates, 5-8 Lower John St., Golden Square, London W1F 9HA, England.
Journalist and producer. British Broadcasting Company (BBC) World Service, London, England, current-affairs editor. Also research fellow at University of Chicago and Knight-Wallace fellow at University of Michigan, 2002.
One World Award, for BBC documentary Recurring Nightmares; Sony Silver award, for BBC documentary "Shadow Trade."
(With John Eidinow) Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument between Two Great Philosophers, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2001.
David Edmonds, a producer with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and John Eidinow, a journalist who spent twenty-five years with the BBC, are coauthors of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument between Two Great Philosophers and Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time. Wittgenstein's Poker is a "compelling, illuminating and pleasurable portrait of twentieth-century philosophy and its background," wrote Spectator critic Anthony Gottlieb. In the work, Edmonds and Eidinow detail a legendary meeting between philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper at England's Cambridge University on October 25, 1946. Before an audience of philosophy dons and students, Popper delivered a lecture titled "Are There Philosophical Problems?"; an outraged Wittgenstein began to argue with him. According to Gottlieb, the debate "was over the seemingly subtle distinction between the view that philosophy deals with mere puzzles, as Wittgenstein maintained, or with genuine problems, as Popper insisted." Though the exchange lasted only ten minutes, eyewitnesses disagreed on exactly what happened. According to some accounts, Wittgenstein brandished a red-hot poker from a fireplace and waved it at Popper; after being admonished for his behavior, Wittgenstein stormed out of the room.
In Wittgenstein's Poker Edmonds and Eidinow attempt to clarify the historical record, and they also examine the personalities of the two men involved. Both Wittgenstein and Popper were Austrian Jews, having grown up in Vienna, and both had fled their homeland after the Nazi takeover. "Despite their similarities," wrote Lev Grossman in Time, "the two came from opposite ends of the philosophical universe, and the authors use the encounter to dramatize a clash of opposing ideas about the nature and purpose of philosophy itself." Wittgenstein's Poker was praised by critics. N. L. Malcolm, reviewing the work in the Christian Science Monitor, wrote, "From a fragment of philosophical history, Edmonds and Eidinow have produced a fascinating account of an intellectual schism and the passions that sustained it." "Tightly constructed and extraordinarily well written, this is a marvelous blend of lay and academic scholarship," observed a Publishers Weekly critic.
Edmonds and Eidinow also collaborated on the 2004 work Bobby Fischer Goes to War, a look at the 1972 world chess championship featuring the reigning world champion, Russian grandmaster Boris Spassky, and the challenger, eccentric American Bobby Fischer. Held in Reykjavík, Iceland, "the two-month event was more than just rearranging thirty-two game pieces on a sixty-four-square board," observed Stephen J. Lyons in USA Today. "For a brief moment, chess emerged from obscurity to center stage. The match embodied all the dramatic stakes of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union." Fischer won the title in an exhausting match highlighted by the American's incessant complaining about playing conditions and Soviet rumors about plots to poison Spassky.
Bobby Fischer Goes to War earned strong reviews. "Although the competition has achieved iconic status," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor, the authors "do an excellent job of making the story fresh, recreating the atmosphere of controversy that surrounded both players long before they met," and Guardian critic Steven Poole praised the authors' extensive research efforts, noting that Edmonds and Eidinow "combed Soviet records and American intelligence files, and interviewed nearly every surviving actor in the drama, to give a more nuanced account of a match that was characterised by extreme mutual paranoia." According to a Kirkus Reviews critic, in Bobby Fischer Goes to War Edmonds and Eidinow successfully "recreate the furor surrounding a chess match that was also one of the Cold War's most bizarre confrontations."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Arts Telegraph (London, England), January 12, 2004, Daniel Johnson, "Pawns of the Cold War."
Booklist, October 1, 2001, review of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument between Two Great Philosophers, p. 270; January 1, 2004, David Pitt, review of Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time, p. 808.
Christian Science Monitor, January 17, 2002, N. L. Malcolm, "Dueling Philosophers: The Implications of This Ten-Minute Clash Still Reverberate."
Entertainment Weekly, March 12, 2004, Gregory Kirschling, review of Bobby Fischer Goes to War, p. 118.
Etc., fall, 2003, Martin H. Levinson, review of Wittgenstein's Poker, pp. 324-325.
First Things, May, 2002, Edward T. Oakes, "Problems or Puzzles?," pp. 41-43.
Guardian, May 12, 2001, Stuart Jeffries, "Jiggery Pokery"; January 31, 2004, Steven Poole, "Hardcore Pawns."
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2001, review of Wittgenstein's Poker, p. 1261; December 15, 2003, review of Bobby Fischer Goes to War, pp. 1434-1435.
Library Journal, January, 2004, Ed Goedeken, review of Bobby Fischer Goes to War, pp. 130-131.
Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2002, John Romano, "The Night in Question," section R, p. 4.
New Yorker, April 1, 2002, Adam Gopnik, "The Porcupine: A Pilgrimage to Popper," pp. 88-93.
New York Times Book Review, December 30, 2001, Jim Holt, "Ludwig Has Left the Building," p. 10; January 6, 2002, review of Wittgenstein's Poker, p. 18; September 22, 2002, Scott Veale, review of Wittgenstein's Poker, p. 28; March 28, 2004, Gabriel Schoenfeld, "The American Opening," p. 15.
Observer, April 15, 2001, Philip Hensher, "Take That Thesis Back, Karl, or I'll Deck You."
Publishers Weekly, January 15, 2001, John F. Baker, The Great Poker Battle, p. 16; October 1, 2001, review of Wittgenstein's Poker, p. 45; December 8, 2003, review of Bobby Fischer Goes to War, p. 52, and Ron Hogan, "Cold War Games," p. 53.
Smithsonian, April, 2002, Paul Trachtman, "Wittgenstein's Ghost," p. 123.
Spectator, April 28, 2001, Anthony Gottlieb, review of Wittgenstein's Poker, p. 32; January 24, 2004, David Caute, "The Winner Who Quit," pp. 30-31.
Sunday Times (London, England), April 15, 2001, Simon Blackburn, "Wittgenstein and Popper Met Only Once, but More than Philosophical Sparks Flew," p. 38.
Time, November 19, 2001, Lev Grossman, "Pokers Wild," p. 141; March 15, 2004, Lev Grossman, "The Trouble with Genius," p. 79.
USA Today, March 3, 2004, Stephen J. Lyons, "Bobby Fischer: Real Thriller with All the Right Moves."
Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2004, Roger Lowenstein, "A Crackpot with All the Right Moves," section D, p. 10.
Washington Post Book World, January 20, 2002, Mark Edmundson, "Brain Storm," p. 8.
David Higham Associates Web site,http://www.davidhigham.co.uk/ (October 22, 2004), "David Edmonds."