The story of Bobby Fischer has for decades garnered international intrigue. At 15, Fischer became the youngest chess grandmaster in the world. To Cold War-era Americans, Fischer’s victory in 1958 over the reigning eastern European champions rendered him a national hero, resulting in accolades like “genius” and “boy wonder.” His 1972 capture of the World Championship from Boris Spassky of the USSR is still considered to be the most widely watched chess match in history.
But over time, Fischer’s reclusive and increasingly bizarre behavior alienated him, until his vitriolic anti-Semitism and endorsement of the 9/11 attacks ultimately sank him into infamy. He died an exile in Iceland in 2008.
So, how could one of America’s greatest minds have ended this way?
That is the question Joseph G. Ponterotto, Ph.D., tackles in his groundbreaking book, A Psychobiography of Bobby Fischer: Understanding the Genius, Mystery, and Psychological Decline of a World Chess Champion (Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Ltd., 2012).