Garry is not a professional military guy. His battlefield is 64 squares of a chessboard, his army are 16 pieces. But his whole chess career was leisure тАУ being in the spotlight, talking to media, etc. And that was his job, he was fulfilling his duty because he was doing what he could do best in his life. Thus he is a perfect match to the above quote even though there is a grain of salt in it.
The book is well written. Garry tells story of him getting championship and defending it. Even though the outcome of his rivalry against Karpov is known the book holds readers attention till final chapters. Garry describes his hallucinations in the most decisive game. Everybody experienced similar glitches and it is funny to realize that even brightest minds in the world are subject to this.
Most of the time, though Garry conveys his vision of life without any opportunity to think differently. There is no errata on the web site of the book which means that the book has no errors, I guess. The book has interesting biographical sketch of Mikhail Tal, in which his life years are marked as 1836-1992. Therefore, according to Garry, Mikhail Tal died at the age of 156.
Besides being chess champion Garry has good knowledge of history. He shares his fascination of Sir Churchill. In the chapter on tactics and strategy he describes how British admiral Jackie Fisher was building an advanced fleet without apparent necessity of doing so. He quotes a Spanish king saying that What I can tell you you are not interested in, what you are interested in I cannot tell you. Lots of funny quotes throughout the book.
As of describing the main topic of the book, Garry touches many important issues. Is being hard-working a talent? How to become good at chess? Do you need good memory, being able to focus on a problem, how do you develop such skills? I guess Garry concludes that a lot of skills are developed indirectly. Surprisingly, I also noticed this. For example foreign language skills are developed through music. That is, you listen to a tune, you learn to reproduce it at an early age. Then, when you travel to a foreign country you start speaking the new language more easily. As a musician, you have greater ability to adopt to the foreign language.
Garry emphasizes the importance of adaptation. He gives examples of companies that failed to adapt to changing market situations. Garry describes company tactics at the Internet age. His conclusion is quite pessimistic тАУ the winner takes it all. There is a bigger need to take risks. Positional maneuvering is not going to generate any revenue for an Internet company. But who can afford taking risks? Only bigger companies who can allocate part of their budget on high-risk projects. Even though Garry does not elaborate on the topic too much, it seems that smaller companies will become extinct if the company does not create a hit product immediately. Well, I would say the reasons behind failures of so many Internet startups is their inability to generate revenue, even though they had a market niche. Technology Review discusses the issue in greater detail.
Even if running a successful company, Garry warns that we question success. Without failing it is impossible to stay competitive. Garry quotes an IBM founder who said that if you want to succeed double your failure rate. This quote is so often misinterpreted when it is treated as If it could fail it should fail, so lets fail.
Overall, the book is very worth reading. This is the book in which one of the brightest minds of our time shares his vision of career, success, and competition in a non-intrusive manner.