Book Review: Answers In The Form Of Questions

Answers In The Form Of Questions: A Definitive History And Insider’s Guide To Jeopardy!, by Claire McNear

This book did a good job for me in introducing a world in which I am but a peripheral figure [1], namely the world of trivia competitions and small dollar prizes for those who know trivia and the possibility of entering into larger prize shows like Jeopardy where the general high degree of knowledge of the clues by people means that buzzers and category strategy has a much higher degree of importance. The title of the book gives a reasonably accurate introduction to its contents, in that part of this book focuses on the history of Jeopardy within the Quiz show genre and how it is that the show has progressed through time while maintaining its place as a mainstay within the popular consciousness, while the other part of the book provides an inside look into how the game works and how it is that the world of Jeopardy is in fact a very small world where people on the show often have past history while also maintaining in contact with each other after their time on the show. If you want to find out about Jeopardy, this show will certainly provide you with information and insight that you did not know, and I found it to be deeply interesting at least.

This book, the author’s first, is eight chapters long and is about 250 pages in length. The book begins with a foreword by Jeopardy wunderkind Ken Jennings. After that comes an introduction into the state of Jeopardy as of the book’s writing, before the death of Alex Trebek which will force some changes into the show. After this the author begins the main section of the book by discussing news about the show as well as the show’s biggest loser (1). After this comes a look at knowing the material or not, with a discussion of Ken Jennings, the skulduggery between contestants and tournaments (), as well as a discussion of Alex Trebek as well as the Clue Crew (3). After this comes a look at training, including buzzer management from James Holzhauer, history of contestants knowing nothing about sports, and the best and worst games of Jeopardy ever (4). a look at Jeopardy in pop culture from Weird Al to Cliff Clavin to SNL’s celebrity Jeopardy to the feud with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (5). After this there is a look at the Forrest bounce, game theory, and true daily doubles (6), a discussion of the Jeopardy alumni network (7), and a look at what’s next for the show (8), after which the book ends with acknowledgements.

Indeed, a large part of the author’s intent appears to be in discussing Jeopardy as a nerdy competition in athleticism while reminding the reader that more than simple trivial knowledge goes into being a contestant on the show. There is a lot of worth in the way that the book discusses how Jeopardy managed to thrive in the aftermath of the Quiz Show scandal where there was the simple decision to give the answers at the front and make the contestant guess the question that connects to the answer. Similarly, the author points out that recent trends in Jeopardy have emphasized more aggressive strategies in choosing categories in order to sniff out daily doubles to increase one’s winnings, and that this sometimes has gone against the entertainment of the show, which has often involved humorous patterns within the categories themselves. A fan of the show will likely be familiar with many of the names that the author brings up and if one is not interested in the show, then this is the sort of book that one would not be likely to read anyway. An audience for a book like this is rather self-selecting anyway, and those who do have even a passing interest in the show will be intrigued by such things as betting strategy and the nearly perfect game of Jeopardy where the three players combined to get all but one of the questions right.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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