I recently heard the story of Fighting Fantasy and Games Workshop firsthand, from creators Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson. You can listen to it in podcast form or read an article I wrote about it. But there was something I couldn't do, an element of the story I couldn't give, and it's one that Ian Livingstone's brand new book Dice Men: The Origin Story of Games Workshop absolutely nails - and that is to show you the history.
Through dozens of photos and letters and ledgers and scribbled ideas for business names, Livingstone finds a way to transport us back into history in a way I never could. Dice Men is rammed with memorabilia - and rare, valuable memorabilia at that. How about pictures of the first Dungeons & Dragons printing runs ever to hit the UK? They're here - check. How about the first editions of the iconic White Dwarf magazine, or the Owl & Weasel newsletter that predated it? Check. Photos of the very first Warhammer-like miniatures the company made: check. This is a treasure trove of nostalgia.
It's these historical mementos that really bring the history Livingstone recounts, which can sometimes be a bit dry, to life - though I did particularly enjoy the anecdote about Steve getting shat on by a bird one day and having no option but to sit with it on him while the pair drove somewhere, accompanied by the sight and smell of the bird's bottom. It prompted a deep dive into why bird's poo is white, which Livingstone recounts his findings on - so it's an educational book, too.