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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PINBALL
BOOK REVIEW


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For someone who wants to learn more about pinball in one sitting it's all wrapped up in a 256 page volume of pinball lore, history, anecdotes, colorful flyers and games, games, games entitled Encyclopedia of Pinball. Here is the history of the beginnings of the industry, its French roots in the 18th century and its positioning as a significant American industry coming out of the dark days of the Great Depression.

Pinball is the single all American contribution to coin operated public amusements, and survives (even thrives!) in to the computer age. The surprising thing is that the game has a lively and enduring history punctuated by larger than life personalities who created and promoted pinball to the American public and almost as quickly, the world.

Bueschel digs deep to present this all too human and business tale in a readable format in 11 chapters that make the story come alive. Names such as Dave Gottlieb, Harry Williams, Dave Rockola and Ray Moloney may not mean much to the populace at large, yet these men were giants in what has become the multi-billion dollar business of coin operated amusements. It's sometimes difficult to humanize but Bueschel does the job well, a result of his over 400 interviews with personalities in the industry, including some of the icons themselves and their families.

Bueschel is no stranger to the literature of pinball, having written a number of books on the subject, and this latest work achieves its ultimate presentation. The Encyclopedia of Pinball brings the entire history of the game and its people and products to a wider audience. It can be viewed as a business book, for the ups and downs of the industry over the years are presented in great clarity. It is also an art book, as the art forms created by the game in over half a century have found their place in art history and the galleries of modern expressionism.

Above all else it is a pinball game book, with nearly 400 vintage game photos and illustrations, including the reproduction of rare and original pinball flyers in their rich and vibrant colors. For players and collectors, a special section of the book includes the rankings of pinballs's great games from the 30s through the 90s by a panel of experts. There is even a price guide included as a slip-in insert for game collectors and enthusiasts. It's a combination of entertainment, knowledge and reference -- an indispensable powerhouse of pinball information.

Be warned! This is not a superficial book. It is serious history by a trained historian. It's the subject that makes it fun, and fun it is as you move from game to game, the laws that govern the placement of the games, the rapidly changing technologies, the themes of the games reflected on their playfields and artful backglasses, the incredible business chances taken by their makers, and the joys of playing. There are 100 games pictured and profiled right up through the modern solid state machines plus a listing of more than 2000 games made from pinball's beginnings up to the end of 1933.

This book is out of print.



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Copyright: 2003 Ken Durham

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