Answers in the Form of Questions: A Definitive History and Insider’s Guide to Jeopardy!
Claire McNear. Twelve, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5387-0232-1
Journalist McNear debuts with a fast-paced and well-researched behind-the-scenes look into one of America’s most popular game shows. Drawing on interviews with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, hundreds of contestants, and the show’s writers and crew, she explores its enduring popularity and strategies for winning. While Jeopardy! appears to require deep knowledge in focused topics, McNear writes, the key to success is “to build a surface-level amount of knowledge about a wide array of subjects.” Suggestions from big winners like James Holhauzer and Ken Jennings include everything from building a Jeopardy! studio simulator at home to sculpting pens and children’s toys into practice buzzers. Buzzer timing, having a strategy for wagering, and choosing clues that might uncover a Daily Double are also important. McNear describes Trebek as a tireless worker who arrives on set early to read the day’s clues, and is funny, sharp, and self-deprecating off-camera. Digging into the mechanics of how the show comes together, McNear notes how games are built using color-coded categories such as academic subjects, pop culture, and wordplay. As Mike Gaberman, a longtime writer for the show, says, “I still can’t wait to see how my categories will play during that day’s shooting.” Game show lovers and aspiring contestants will definitely want to pick this up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/11/2020