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Phoenix: Fall & Rise of Video Games -Book Review
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Gaming books - classic retro gaming video game book reviewLeonard Herman Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games - classic retro gaming video game book review
Title: Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games
Author: Leonard Herman
Publisher: Rolenta Press
Platform: Book
Release Date: 2001
ISBN #: 0-9643848-5-X
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
ESRB Rating: N/A

Rating: Leonard Herman Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games - classic retro video game book review Rating

Revered as one of the best books on the history of video games, Leonard Herman's Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games (Rolenta Press) is equally a history book as much as it is a gaming book. If you were to comb through the intricate details laid out in gaming magazines over the last few decades, you'd begin to get a sense of the significance of Phoenix. A vast amount of information, antidotes, and images has been collated into one 324 page volume.

The level of detail is immense and well organized. As with any history book, both the who, when & where come together to form a historical retrospective. Laid out by Year, Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games by dedicating a chapter to each year of video gaming's history. The book begins with some computer history, then taking us through 1970 - 1976 over two chapters at which point each year of gaming had a dedicated chapter.

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Herman began writing the book in 1987 and his intention was for it to be published by 1992, the 20th anniversary of videogames. Several publishers rejected the book on the grounds that the
video game industry was too new for a detailed history. Herman decided to self-publish the book and founded Rolenta Press. "Rolenta" is a actually a concatenation of family names - his son, himself and his wife. Cool tribute!

Meeting Leonard Herman

Not long after the first publishing of Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games, a friend of mine who knew Herman recommended the book to me (my friend was quoted on the back cover). After flipping through his copy I knew I had to read it cover-to-cover.

My buddy invited me to a gamer meeting at an indy shop in NJ where Leonard Herman was going to talk. At the time I didn't know much about gaming or Leonard Herman. Having read Phoenix, I was stoked to meet the man behind it. The get-together was pretty cool, but listening to Herman was amazing. He was like one of those rabid sports fans who can rattle off stats - except I hate team-sports and Herman was dishing out game facts like Jeopardy on crack (in a good way). It was an awesome evening and Herman seemed genuinely surprised when I asked him to sign my copy of Phoenix.

Leonard Herman Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games - classic retro gaming video game book review

He signed my first edition that I brought along and he gave everyone a homebrew copy of the next chapter which covered 1994. Years later I stumbled across his site and discovered there was a 3rd edition that updated the text of the original, contained pictures and additional chapters bringing video game history up to the year 2000. He signed the 3rd edition copy I ordered. I have to say he has knowledge and class.

Published editions

Some have said they found the writing style too dry, but I found the writing clear, organized and objective. Being a game fanatic who loves every shred of detail, I tend to get excited by the content more so than the writing. Naturally, there's nothing worse than a great topic ruined by bad writing, but Herman's style keeps the pace moving and ties together the various events of each year (chapter) demonstrating the overall significance and weight.

Having images was a nice addition, but they are fairly small and all black & white. I'd like to have seen the images take a somewhat more prominent role, but that would have made the book insanely long. Considering the huge amount of information provided in the text, the images take a secondary role.

In conclusion I consider Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games a must-have book for anyone who loves video games and is interested in how this crazy industry started, progressed and became what it is today. Buy this book!

This review was based on my original reading of the first edition and my later experience with the 5th printing of the 3rd edition in 2009.

classic retro gaming video game book review
Final Judgement:

Leonard Herman Phoenix The Fall & Rise of Video Games

will take you back in time and let you travel through the corporations, events and luminaries that developed what has become known as the video game industry.

As you read through Phoenix, you'll wonder why all the history books you read in school were so damn boring. Herman makes video game history fascinating.

Leonard Herman's book explores video game history in Phoenix- The Fall & Rise of Video Games

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