- The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine by Tom Standage — An excellent read, this streamlined, comprehensive book first introduced me to the automaton.
- Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood — also known as Living Dolls, this book has an entire chapter devoted to the chess-playing automaton. The other chapters give in-depth information on Thomas Edison's attempt at a talking doll, Vaucanson's duck, and the Doll family: all fascinating attempts to create life with mechanisms — or use life to give the illusion of mechanism. This book also helped inspire Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
- Chess: Man vs. Machine by Bradley Ewart — I was given a copy of this book by John Gaughan, who created his own working version of the automaton. It proved immensely helpful, and is full of pictures, engravings and photographs of the places the automaton traveled, the people it affected, and the imitators it inspired.
- The Illustrated History of Magic by Milbourne Christopher — Provides a short introduction to the automaton.
- Wolfgang von Kempelen: Eine Biografie by Dr. Alice Reininger — This biography is the best and most accurate book about von Kempelen's life and accomplishments. The reproductions of Kempelen's artwork and poetry are worth the cost of the book alone. In German.
- Memoirs and Correspondence (official and Familiar) of Sir Robert Murray Keith — a firsthand account of one man's interaction with the automaton.
- Inanimate Reason; or a Circumstantial Account of That Astonishing Piece of Mechanism, M. de Kempelen's Chess-Player (excerpts): Karl Gottlieb von Windisch, a friend of von Kempelen, wrote a series of letters that were collected into one of the first books about the automaton. Some think that von Kempelen had a heavy influence on Windisch's letters, and may have created the etchings himself.
- The Morals of Chess — Benjamin Franklin's famous pamphlet on chess.
- Briefe über den Schachspieler des Herrn von Kempelen — Windisch's complete book, in German.
- Journal des Savants, September 1783 — Brief report on Windisch's book, also contains a list of theories on how the automaton might have worked. In French.
- Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon, by Louis Constant Wairy — Firsthand witness of Napoleon's game with the automaton
- Orientalism by Edward Said -- a classic text that explains the root causes, growth, and current permutations of Orientalism.
- The Arts of Deception: Playing with Fraud in the Age of Barnum by James W. Cook -- A look at Barnum's career, with a chapter devoted to the automaton.
- The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism by Dr. Timothy Marr -- an excellent companion to Orientalism, this volume focuses on America's early relationships with Islam.
- The Chess Machine by Robert Löhr — This account of the automaton is set during von Kempelen's lifetime, and tells the story of its debut at Schöbrunn Palace, along with the aftermath. This novel wasn't as focused on historical accuracy as I would've liked, and I found the author's handling of Tibor problematic, but the rest of the book was a pleasant enough read.
- Kingkill by Thomas Gavin — In his darkly beautiful first novel, Gavin turns Maelzel into a truly evil antagonist. The plot is accurate to historical fact, yet Gavin injects a deep vein of highly believable fiction through its center, until even I had trouble telling one from the other. Thick, heavy prose curls in every corner of the book, sometimes weighing it down, sometimes raising it up; I found this a quite dense read. Note: Kingkill contains depictions of rape and overt transphobia.
(Links may contain spoilers)
- An exhibition of von Kempelen's life and works, which began in Budapest and will travel to Slovakia and Austria
- Schönbrunn Palace, where many scenes take place
- Magic historian and major illusion builder John Gaughan's modern reconstruction of the chess-playing automaton, shown in an excerpt from a Discovery Channel special. In English with subtitles.
- Another video of John Gaughan's reconstructed Turk. In Hungarian, no subtitles -- but some English from Mr. Gaughan.
- The Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn, Germany recently built a replica of the chess-playing automaton.
- Link to an excerpt of the 1927 silent film The Chess-Player, starring Pierre Blanchar and Charles Dullin, and directed by Raymond Bernard. Silent, with subtitles.