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The World Played Chess  By  cover art

The World Played Chess

By: Robert Dugoni
Narrated by: Robert Dugoni,Todd Haberkorn
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Publisher's Summary

“A fearless and sensitive coming-of-age story. I loved it.”—Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky and The Last Green Valley.

Bestselling author Robert Dugoni returns with an emotionally arresting follow-up to The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.

In 1979, Vincent Bianco has just graduated high school. His only desire: collect a little beer money and enjoy his final summer before college. So he lands a job as a laborer on a construction crew. Working alongside two Vietnam vets, one suffering from PTSD, Vincent gets the education of a lifetime. Now forty years later, with his own son leaving for college, the lessons of that summer—Vincent’s last taste of innocence and first taste of real life—dramatically unfold in a novel about breaking away, shaping a life, and seeking one’s own destiny.

©2021 by La Mesa Fiction, LLC. (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“With his usual narrative mastery, Dugoni takes on the often-overlooked ordeal of boys becoming men and does so fearlessly and sensitively, chronicling the coming-of-age stories of three different men linked by war, friendship, and family. I loved it.” (Mark Sullivan, best-selling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky and The Last Green Valley)

“A riveting story of boys becoming men and the risks they take along the way.” (Library Journal)

The World Played Chess is a shining example of a writer at the top of his game, and a deeply thought-provoking take on a man’s coming of age.” (Authorlink) 

“Wondrously brilliant and poignant.... While not a Vietnam novel per se, the book resembles Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War in its sheer emotional resonance. Dugoni, though, seems to be channeling the lyrical storytelling magic of the great Pat Conroy more. The World Played Chess is this generation’s The Prince of Tides and a candidate for best novel of 2021.” (Jon Land, Providence Journal

What listeners say about The World Played Chess

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Great on so many levels.

I was introduced to Robert Dugoni through The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell. I so thoroughly enjoyed that book that I gave out several copies. I next went to the Tracy Crosswhite series. I enjoyed those books but they didn't touch me as Sam Hell had. When I heard there was a new book coming out and had read the synopsis I thought it would be good but how could it compare to Sam Hell?
The World Played Chess did more than hold its own. I find it hard that anyone would have a hard time not being able to relate to the book on one level or another. Its a book about life, our loves, the absurdities, about finding out who we are versus who we think we should be and it's about finding peace.
As a book junky I feel that it's one of the best books I've read in a while.

58 people found this helpful

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One small act of kindness such as listening to someone can change a life

The World Played Chess by Robert Dugoni Is an extraordinary novel, about the coming-of-age of three young men. Once more, as is always the case for Dugoni’s novels I love the three main characters, Vincent a young man just out of high school, learning about life in 1979. William a Vietnam vet, who talks about his experiences in Vietnam to Vincent when he William was 18,and finally Vincent’s son Beau, who is still in high school in modern time and soon also goes away to college. The book taught me more about the Vietnam war then I ever learned in school. I have a deeper appreciation for that time in history and the sacrifices that all men and women who serve make as well as their families daily. The story is told so beautifully that you felt like you are in Vietnam in the bush with the soldiers. While parts of the book brought me to tears everything served to tell the story. Do not let the fact that much of the story details the Vietnam war deter you from reading it because it is a magnificent story about love, the human spirit, and faith . There are some very prevalent reminders about how precious life is and how it is a privilege to grow old and we should all be better listeners and support each other in both big and small ways whenever possible, you never know how one small act of kindness can forever change someone’s life for the better.

38 people found this helpful

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WOW! This story took me by surprise.

The story and my involvement in it grew and grew. In the beginning I thought a little slow. As I continued listening I felt more and more wrapped in the three stories of the two characters. I loved it. Put my head down numerous times with my eyes closed I just blocked out everything and took the words in. I cried. A felt. I loved it.

25 people found this helpful

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Interesting Work

Very interesting work and helped me understand my father, a Vietnam Veteran, just a bit more fully. I love his work, I just Robert Dugoni wouldn't read his books on audio. He has an annoying voice and it distracts from the story. GIve the job to the person who is trained to do it well.

20 people found this helpful

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so good

Y'all. Robert Dugoni is one of my faves- #tracycrosswhiteisthebest 🤗 I've been eagerly awaiting the release if this book, and it did NOT disappoint. As the Mother of 4 boys, the oldest of which turns 16 in November, I was so touched by the coming of age aspect. When Elizabeth mourns the growing up of her 'baby boy' I literally cried as I imagined my own first- born baby boy. He'll be spreading his wings and venturing out on his own all too soon, and this Momma ain't ready. As the wife of a veteran that suffers from PTSD, I became emotional more than once through the telling of the Vietnam stories, and the repercussions. The author, as one of the narrators, was fantastic... It's so easy to listen to and I felt so connected to the story and characters in so many ways. do yourself a favor and listen to- or read this book!

18 people found this helpful

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Read This Book!

First of all, I ordered The World Played Chess knowing nothing about it other than that it was written by Robert Dugoni. It transported me back to a time when I watched the news and worried about my brothers and friends being drafted and sent to Vietnam. It took me to places where I have lived or spent time in, and it elicited a range of emotions along with many tears. I feel like I've gained a better understanding of what our soldiers experienced both during and after that war. Thank you Mr. Dugoni, for a beautifully written story which intertwines the very important subjects of what war does to people, boys growing up to be men...and SO much more. I work during the day and read before bed. It's now after 2:00 am and I must get some sleep as I couldn't put this down!

14 people found this helpful

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Unbelievable! A phenomenal story

When Robert Dugoni writes a book, I pay full attention! Like “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell”, this
Book, “The World Played Chess” is a story that one will never forget. Sure many of the details, the names of characters and even the sequence of events might not remain clear within our memories, but the essence and parts of this book has been etched into my soul. DO NOT pass this book over. It is one that will never be forgotten. Thank you Robert for your excellent work and yours did Todd Haberkorn’s narration.

13 people found this helpful

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Dugoni knocked it out of the park!

Robert Dugoni is an outstanding writer. I've read several of his books now and two of them are in my top 10 list. This book is one of them.

I'm the parent of a 13-year-old girl. She's going through so much growth, challenges and maturity, this is such a crucial time in her life. I bring this up because The World Played Chess really speaks to parenthood, how we love our kids and how our own childhood is infused with the way we parent.

I was also very impressed with the structure of the book. The book follows 3 young men in their 18th year and takes place during 3 time periods: 1968, 1979 and 2015-17. All three timelines are connected with the three main characters, drawing connections between their experience, their feelings and realizations

It was an exceptional book and I am very sad that it ended. I felt like I knew these characters. If you're a parent, this book will take on extra meaning.

Dugoni knocked it out of the park.

10 people found this helpful

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Even better

I'm a fan of Mr. Dugoni's and can truly say I've enjoyed every one of his books with The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell being my favorite - until now. From the first page, I was immediately and entirely invested in this journey. It's heartbreaking and tragic with just enough hope and light to keep you going. Keep the box of tissue nearby for this one.

9 people found this helpful

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this was just not my kind of book

Robert Dugoni is one of my favorite writers. I was surprised when I found I did not like this book in any way. It sounded like a scattering of many different stories, none of which were very interesting. I'm not a fan of the Vietnam war. This book would probably be appreciated more by teenagers or younger people.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Lorena B
  • 08-27-22

Painful and uplifting

I challenge anyone to read/listed to this novel with a dry eye. I am not an American, nor am I a man, forced to grow up all of a sudden when I’m 18because of society’s expectations, but the different characters and voices in this book made it all real and tangible for me. The horror of war, the loss of hope, the helplessness and then finding oneself again and a reason to live.
An amazing book!!

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  • virgo
  • 01-31-22

Brilliant Book

one of the best best books I've read, I now have read all of this authors books and must say it is one of the best he has written, looking forward to the new Tracey Crosswhite thriller, and any other new books