The Turk

Tom Standage

Read May 2005

Tom Standage is perhaps best known for his book on the telegraph, The Victorian Internet. There is a certain parallel here: he takes a modern technical obsession, deconstructs it, and shows its counterparts from an earlier, electro-mechanical age. In this case, however, the wonder is a fake. This is its story, and of the court and society that spawned and adored it. Standage keeps his light and adept touch for most of the book, including revealing the Turk's interesting machinery (and the story behing its revelation). Each chapter, entertainingly, has as epigrams an apposite chess move and quote. Only when he gets philosophical about modern chess computers does his narrrative derail; a better editor might have been less indulgent. Entertaining reading, nevertheless.