Cover Image: The World Played Chess

The World Played Chess

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Member Reviews

4.5 stars. Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley, and Robert Dugoni for an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review. Robert Dugoni is one of my all-time favorite authors. I have yet to read a dud by him. He has a way of writing/storytelling that makes you feel as if you are sitting down with his characters having a conversation. This book is another standalone just like "The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell." This novel features three young men all turning 18 in the years 1967, 1979 and 2015. All looking forward to college and starting the journey to become men. But they will all have vastly different journeys. It explored the expectations of youth versus the reality of life. There are large passages that are a soldier's journal from his time in Vietnam that are excellent. The character development, storytelling, and story structure are just damn perfect. This story completed captivated me, and these characters evoked visceral, complex emotion within me. Dugoni has outdone himself with this coming-of-age piece and created a true masterpiece that is a must-read.
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3.5 rounded up to 4 start, due in part to Dugoni's well written prose. 

Vietnam-war era books are not my typical jam, but the intrigue of this book lies in the coming of age story of three young men, who are forced to grow up quickly. The story passes through three different timelines, connected by Vincent Bianco. 

In 1979, when Vincent spends his summer before college working as part of a construction crew, with two Vietnam Veterans. Vincent befriends William Goodman, enjoying beers and listening to his tales war at a time when no one yet knew about PTSD.

Contrast to 1967, William, fresh out of high school, enlisted in the Marines, with the intent of shooting pictures of the war with his camera rather than bullets. He is given the nickname "Shutter," and endures more combat and missions that he ever imagined. 

Skip ahead to 2016, when Vincent, now a married lawyer with two kids, receives William's journal in the mail. William's journal pulls Vincent back into that summer of 1979, and pulls the reader into the jungles of Vietnam, the brutal humidity while "humping" through rice fields, mud, and sludge, and blackness of nights filled with fear. Vincent is fathering Beau, who stumbles through his own high school mishaps as he prepares for college and for his future. 

The arrival of the journal has Vincent reminiscing about the summer of 1979, his friendship with William, and the lessons he unwittingly learned from Shutter about when to stand up for a belief,  when to walk away, and how to talk to a son about making choices without sounding like a lecture.

The emotions in this book are deep and raw.  Involuntary tears rolled down my cheeks as I read.   Dugoni is a gifted writer.  While I Sam Hell is still a favorite of mine, the World Played Chess is a worthy read.

Thank you to Robert Dugoni, Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I would love to be original and witty with this review, but, I simply can not, so, I will start with the following:

This is a coming of age story of 3 men.  William, Vincent aka Vincenzo and Beau.  This book has Vincent telling his story of working with William, a Vietnam Vet, in the summer of 1979.  Vincent is preparing to go away to college.  The 2 men form a friendship that will last a lifetime w/o ever seeing one another again.  Fast forward to 2015 and we read about Beau, Vincent's son who is getting ready to go off to college for the first time.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this story!  I appreciate how similar these 3 men are to one another and the subtle differences.  The characters were so well developed throughout the book and I just felt that there was so much growth with out being preachy.  

Many thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for this advanced readers copy.  This book released on September 14, 2021.
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Following three young men on the cusp of adulthood, The World Played Chess is a complex coming-of-age story. Young William just graduated high school in 1979 and takes on a summer job working construction. There he meets Vietnam War vet Vincent whose story is told of his journey to adulthood in 1967. And lastly there is the story of Beau, William’s son, as he starts his journey into adulthood in 2015. 

I loved the multiple timelines, it added a lot of depth to this story. The multiple perspectives was great, but a bit overdone in my opinion. I would really be enjoying one of their stories and it would be time to switch to another character. Beau’s story wasn’t really fleshed out like the other two and because of that, I feel we could have done without it. While a wonderful story, it just felt like an add-on and the plot would have been a lot stronger without it. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between William and Vincent, it was both complex and completely pure. I loved reading the journal entrees from Vincent’s time in the Vietnam War, it was an interesting look at that time period. The writing is exceptional and really showcases Dugoni’s talent. Overall, I loved this book but my issues with Beau’s story knocked it down a star. 4⭐️ Thanks @amazonpublishing for the advance reader in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the copy of this book. 

This book was the definition of a coming of age story of three different men, from three different times. The first, William in Vietnam, the second Vincent who meets William at a job site before he heads to college and the third, Vincent's son as he is set to graduate high school. 

This book touches on a lot of tough, heartwrenching themes about life being too short and sometimes too long. The takeaways from the book are important. The story was well written but not super engaging. I think this book is more geared towards a different audience. .
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“The world played chess” is an excellent book.  I would give it  5 stars,  The war details may not appeal to everyone. It’s a book untwined with 3 stories of a young soldier in the Viet Nam  War, his experiences captured the past in a journal, his present day life working on a  home  remodeling crew during a summer, and the journalist relating it all, also an 18 year old, who is working beside him on the crew in the summer before embarking on his college career. 
The language is detailed to give the reader visualization of the story as it unfolds to create an emotional page turning experience. It may seem to take off to a slow start but as a reader I suggest trying to read it without a lot of interruptions.  It gives us a poignant read of the time period of the Viet  Nam War, as well as an accurate representation.  
iIt also creates a compassionate understanding of our veteran population after their service and brings up the question if we are giving back to them the support they need after they sacrifice so much to serve their country. It also makes us question the integrity of our culture as a nation and how we could stand to better ourselves in depth as citizens.
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This is a poignant story told through the eyes of a Vietnam veteran and the person who was a told the gripping story, a 18 year old who will never forget his experiences there.
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The World Played Chess by Robert Dugoni is told across multiple timelines through the eyes of Vincent and William. They met in 1979 when Vincent was a new high school grad bound for college but spending his summer working on the construction crew William is on. William spent time in Vietnam as a soldier during the war. He chronicled his experience in a journal that he sends to Vincent in 2015. Through reading this journal Vincent gets to really understand William and the life-changing experience he went through in Vietnam. Read and enjoy!
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Robert Dugoni impresses time and again regardless of the genre. Whether you're a long time fan like me, or someone who has never read this author I can highly recommend his latest offering <b>The World Played Chess</b> which is both a coming of age story and a Vietnam War story.

Told from two eighteen year old boys with just over a decade separating them.      A few small years which made the world of difference to their experiences.   As an 18 yo in 1968 William went straight from school into the marines and was sent to Vietnam whereas when Vincent was 18 in 1979 he partied with mates and worked on a construction site to earn some cash to pay his way through college.      It was on that job in 1979 that William and Vince met and where they shared beers and conversation when the working day was done.   Vince became something of a confidante for William, the person William could share some of his innermost thoughts and feelings with.     Many decades later he shared his journal with Vince and it is through these words that the Vietnam story unfolds.

In the present day Vince is the father of an 18 year old son Beau.  The present day thread ties it all together as Vince puts into practice some of the wisdom he gained, and the lessons he learnt during his 18th year.  

This book was very well done.  Not only did I feel attached to the characters and engaged in the story but it provided a reminder of the futility of war.       I haven't read a great deal about the Vietnam War so it was definitely an eye opener for me.   The book read like a memoir though Robert Dugoni states it wasn't.   Instead it was an amalgamation  of some of his own stories, some stories of a couple of Vietnam veterans he befriended when he was an 18 year old working on a construction site, and it was all supplemented with an enormous amount of  research.  

I highly recommend this novel and send mynthanks to the author and his team, to Lake Union Publishers and Netgalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review which it was my pleasure to provide.
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An absolutely wonderful coming of age story about the summer of 1979. The World Played Chess is told from three points of view: William, a soldier in Vietnam, and Vincent as a teenager and then an adult in present day. The story plays out in flashbacks and stories told through the reading of William's journal. So many things play out including the struggles of life and war, PTSD, family, friendship, and all of the emotions that come in to play as you leave life at home and move on to adulthood. Who are our heroes in life? I love the title and its meaning. "The world is playing chess and you're playing checkers." An emotional and unforgettable read.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC.
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First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Robert Dugoni, and Lake Union Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication. What a beautiful coming of age story of boys becoming men. As a mother of two sons this really made me delve into my feelings of having your son taken and sent to war and also a parent’s knowledge of knowing when to let go. Mothers of sons should read this!  This is a manual on growing up and knowing when to do the right things. I fell in love with both William and Vincent.  This is an emotional story that will stick with me for a long time. 
 I loved Mr. Dugoni’s usage of a journal to tell the story of a young boy’s experience in Vietnam.  I also liked the past and present storyline.  His description of the bush in Vietnam made the reader feel as if they were there with the characters.  
As a child of the 60’s and 70’s I watched the war in Vietnam nightly on the news.  I didn’t understand it but remember the images.  As I grew older I didn’t learn a lot about Vietnam in school and sadly at 61 years of age I still don’t know a lot.  After reading this novel I feel I want to learn more and read more about that time in our history.   
I loved The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell and honestly that lead to me requesting The World Played Chess.  Mr. Dugoni has followed it with another outstanding novel.  I would highly recommend it! Thank you for the honor of reading an advance copy!
Leslie Ponder
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This is a raw and emotional book surrounding the Vietnam war and the lasting impacts and emotions.   It touches on three timelines and three young men who are turning 18.  In 1968, William finishes high school and enlists with the Marines.  His very young life is about to be shocked by the experiences he will face in Vietnam, and the images he will capture as a photographer.
In 1979, Vincent has also just graduated high school and finds himself working for a construction crew alongside William.  He begins to hear a few stories from William and sees changes in William as memories come back or he experiences different encounters.   In 2016, Vincent is older and his son Beau is preparing to graduate from high school.  Vincent receives William's war journal in the mail and slowly reads through it, processing the emotions that are clearly documented there.  Strong perspectives resonate with Vincent, even in his current stage of life.
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The World Played Chess is a novel that feels like nonfiction. It is told from different points of view and different points in time. The experiences of young Americans fighting, dying, and coming home from the Vietnam War serve as sources of wisdom for the contemporary characters. This book is emotional and puts the ugly part of war on full display. It was well-written and engaging. Kudos to author Robert Dugoni, who pulled together a beautiful coming of age story full of life lessons. 

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for the opportunity to read this book. The opinions in this review are entirely my own. 

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I loved the title but I loved the book even more. This historical fiction book is about boys on the cusp of manhood in three different time periods- a young man sent to Vietman, the same man ten years later who works on a construction crew with a recent high school graduate, and that graduates' son at the same age, twenty years later. Trauma, loyalty, and lessons on trust and resilience are woven thru the three stories seamlessly. 

Usually in multiple timelines, I find myself disliking one of them, but this was not the case with this book. All three were so interesting in different ways and I think you needed a part set in the home front later to balance out the Vietnam battles. It really deepened the connection between the men and the themes. 
I loved this book (by the author of The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.) He is a beloved author online and I can see why- this book was well crafted. Highly recommend!

Thank you to Netgalley for the advance readers copy.
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A beautifully brilliant and emotional read that will stick with me for a long time.  

This is the first book I have read by Dugoni.  I don't normally read books on the war but I had so many people recommending this book to me.  I am so glad I took their advice and read it.  It wasn't an easy read due to it's emotional content but it was brilliant and so absolutely real.  These young boys/men being sent to war and so many that don't come back.  A book that is so rich and powerful.  I highly recommend this book to everyone.
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I absolutely loved this book. The story was told in three different time periods, and Robert Dugoni expertly weaved all three stories together to make one beautiful portrayal of how William's life during the Vietnam War impacted not only his life, but the life of Vincent in the 70 and then Vincent's son years later. I haven't read much in the way of historical fiction set during the Vietnam War, so this touched me in so many ways. Thank you to Meagan Beatie at MB Communications and Netgalley for the chance to read the ARC of this amazing story.
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This was a very well written book about the Vietnam war as told through diary entries of a marine who lived through the war.  There are three POV throughout the book; William in 1968, Vincent in 1979 and Beau in the present.  I would have enjoyed the book more had it just been about William and his life in Vietnam.  That was the most horrific and heartbreaking.  The parts about Vincent and his son didn't resonate with me.  It was too much about drinking, playing sports and paragraphs about home repair and working on a building site.  However, I recommend this book because it does brings the reader into the jungles of Vietnam where soldiers never knew if today was the day they would be killed. Very chilling.  Thank you NetGalley for an ARC for an honest review.
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A quick read and quite different than the other Robert Dugoni books I’ve read.

I liked William’s parts the best.

I wish the third POV was the son, but a good read all around.

Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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The World Played Chess is a solemn Coming of Age story about three young men, and the knock-on effects of the Vietnam war. I think it’s a great book, but I didn’t enjoy it, if that makes sense - I found large chunks of it either depressing or boring - it is very American. I don’t like war books, but requested it because I love the author’s Tracy Crosswhite series. It’s taken me quite a while to finish it because I struggled with the subject matter, but am glad I persisted.

Vincent Bianco is a middle-aged attorney whose teenage son Beau is soon finishing school. One day he receives a surprise package in the mail with a letter from William, a Vietnam vet that he worked with as a builder’s labourer over his last summer before college, asking him to read the enclosed journal detailing Williams’s time at war. Vincent reminisces about the events of that summer of 1979, interspersed with the diary entries from 1968, and his observations of his own son Beau’s transition to manhood. 

Dugoni is a great storyteller, and William’s story in particular brings the horror and hardship of life as a marine fighting the Viet Cong in a pointless war, where you are urged not to make friends so it’s not so hard when they die. Vincent’s story has rather too much detail about renovating a house and sports, which slowed the pace of the story right down, as well as the idiotic drunken antics he gets involved in with his peers that had me rolling my eyes. I agree with other reviewers that it would’ve been more interesting to hear Beau’s story from his own point of view - even though he comes across as a spoiled brat for most of it.

I’m rating this 3.5 to reflect my own enjoyment of it, and rounding up for the epilogue and afterword, which explains which parts are autobiographical and which fiction, including the references Dugoni used to research the war. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union publishing for the ARC with apologies that it’s a week late. I’m posting this honest review voluntarily. The world played chess is available now.
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A beautifully written coming-of-age story. Vincent Bianco meets William and Todd, Vietnam vets, in 1976 working construction. As Vinnie's friendship with William develops, William tells his story of Vietnam. Time passes and Vinnie is a successful lawyer with an 18 year old son Beau. He receives a package from William that contains a journal of Willian's time in Vietnam. Dugoni masterfully weaves the three timelines and stories and each story connects to the others with life lessons concerning grief, regret, and responsibility. William's journal is heartbreaking. 
Highly recommended for fans of Dugoni and those interested in the Vietnam War from a soldier's viewpoint.
A masterpiece that will tug at your heart and mind. Expertly researched with an extensive resource list and author's notes that are touching.
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