Of Dice and Men is a great book for those who want to geek out for a few hours. I enjoyed it tremendously. It’s a sympathetic first-person overview of everything you wanted to know about Dungeons and Dragons, written by a Forbes Magazine editor who is a long-time D&D enthusiast, David Ewalt. The full title of his book, Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It, summarizes it nicely. It grabbed my attention because quite a number of my friends and colleagues play D&D, even though I have never done so myself. (That might or might not surprise people who know me. Sometimes it surprises me.)
Ewalt does a great job of integrating half a dozen different strands in this book. We learn a great deal about how D&D is actually played, complete with lots of necessary details in which the reader can wallow. (If you’re not into wallowing in details, don’t read the book.) We learn a lot about business history, as is appropriate for a Forbes journalist. We learn about other fantasy role-playing games, not just D&D. We learn about other board games and simulations, some of which share features with D&D, some of which don’t. We learn about the people who were involved in creating and promoting the game from the beginning. Finally, we learn about the different editions of D&D and why they matter. It’s all, in a way, highly personal, as seen through the eyes of one particular D&D player. Despite all its details, it’s not meant to be a comprehensive, all-points-of-view-represented history book. As I said, I enjoyed it a lot. You could too.