Game theory - the formal modelling of conflict and co-operation - first emerged as a recognized field with a publication of John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern's "Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour" in 1944. Since then, game-theoretic thinking about choice of strategies and the interdependence of people's actions has influenced all the social sciences. However, little is known about the history of the theory of strategic games prior to this publication. In this volume, the history of strategic games - from its origins up to 1945 - is traced through the work of: 19th-century economists such as Cournot and Edgeworth; voting theorists - including Lewis Carroll; conflict theorists - Richardson and Lanchester; probabilists such as Bertrand, Borel and Ville; later economists - notably Stackelberg and Zeuthen. This account of the history of game theory concludes with an historical perspective on the achievement of von Neumann and Morgenstern, and an appraisal of the reception of their book.