PRISONER OF TREBEKISTAN by Bob Harris
Publisher Crown/Random House, September 2006
Welcome to a world where obscure information is crucial to survival, vast
sums of cash are at stake, and mere milliseconds can change not just a game,
but the course of your life.
Prisoner of Trebekistan is Bob Harris’s hilarious, insightful account of one
man's unlikely yet epic journey through Jeopardy!, gleefully
exploring triumph and failure, the nature of memory, and how knowledge
itself can transform you in unpredictable ways—all against the backdrop of
the most popular quiz show in history.
In Prisoner of Trebekistan, Bob chronicles his unlikely transformation from
a struggling stand-up comic who fails the Jeopardy! audition test roughly
five times (he honestly can't remember the exact number) to an elite player
competing against the show’s most powerful brains. To get there, Bob embarks
on a series of intense cram sessions, using his sense of humor to transform
conventional memory techniques into playful tricks that are as amusing as
they are powerful. What follows is not only a captivating series of high
stakes victories and defeats on Jeopardy!, but also a growing
appreciation of the borderless world that Bob calls Trebekistan, where a
love of learning reigns and the smarter you get, the more you realize you
Besides being filled with secrets that only a veteran player can share —
from surprising betting and game-play strategies to subtle Jedi-like tactics
with the Jeopardy! signaling device — Prisoner of Trebekistan also provides
an inside-the-head view of exciting high-level tournament games (including
Bob's hysterical seat-of-the-pants inner thoughts) with the actual clues
that led to victory or defeat, and candid, moving reflections on how the
games affected Bob's offstage life -- and vice versa. The result is not only
an irresistible treat for Jeopardy! fans, but a delight for anyone
who loves a rollicking tale that celebrates the unpredictability of life and
the sneaky way it has of teaching us the things that really matter.
"Prisoner of Trebekistan" is so effortlessly funny and informative, the
fact that it's also tender, human and very wise kind of sneak up on you. Bob
Harris has snuck a quirky and fascinating personal narrative into his pop
culture 'expose'. Amidst the nerve-wracking Jeopardy showdowns and hilarious
study rituals he has found the difference between facts and knowledge,
between knowledge and wisdom, and proved conclusively that the answer to the
meaning of life may very well take the form of a question. A must for anyone
who loves Jeopardy, or has ever seen it, or is breathing.
-- Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"If you don't buy this book -- this funny, learned, charming, and
surprisingly moving book -- I will make it burst into flames in your hands."
-- Arthur Phillips, author of Prague and The Egyptologist
Bob Harris is one of the funniest and wisest writers I know... I will be
astonished if this is not a huge bestseller.
-- Dan Perkins aka "Tom Tomorrow," cartoonist, This Modern
If super-intelligent aliens demanded to interview one member of our species
to see if we were entertaining enough to be allowed to continue, I would
nominate, with all my powers of persuasion, Bob Harris.
-- Emo Philips, comedian