July 1995

Although the title refers to itself due  to the decline and rise of videogames as they descended and then ascended from the ashes of themselves, Phoenix, The Rise and Fall of Home Videogames is not just a self-referential title. In fact, it seems that Leonard Herman recreated this book, which he originally intended as a history of Atari, into a chronicle of today's incestuous, lawsuit-ridden, and otherwise extraordinary videogame, computer, and coin-op industry. 

While Game Over, David Sheff's book, built a historical tapestry around Nintendo, Herman weaves strong fact and solid story telling around Atari's behind-the-scenes deals, legal wranglings, successes, failures, and the people and games that made the company what it is today. Straightforward writing peppered with humor and chock full of technical information continue onward from Atari to tell the stories of Mattel, Milton Bradley, Magnavox, Nintendo, Sega, 3DO, NEC, Sony, videogame magazines, and the explosion of a developing new entertainment industry. 

Few, if any, game consoles are left out of this self-published history book, and particular consideration is given to 8-bit and l6-bit games, hand-held games, and coin-ops, although it is unfortunate that less concentration is directed toward VR, 32-bit consoles, and multimedia, considering the market's focus these days. But Herman could always follow up with Phoenix Part II... 

All in all, Phoenix can be counted on as a colorful, sharp, and concise reference book for anyone, whether they're insiders or new to the industry, who desire to plumb the origins (the "genesis," if you will) of the gaming industry. Thumbs up, Herman.