Author Rich Cohen

Rich Cohen The Fish That Ate the Whale

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Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football

For Rich Cohen and millions of other fans, the 1985 Chicago Bears were more than a football team. They were the greatest football team ever—a gang of colorful nuts, dancing and pounding their way to victory. They won a Super Bowl and saved a city.

It was not just that the Monsters of the Midway won, but how they did it. On offense, there was high-stepping running back Walter Payton and punky QB, Jim McMahon, who had a knack for pissing off Coach Mike Ditka as he made his way to the end zone. On defense, there was the 46: a revolutionary, quarterback-concussing scheme cooked up by Buddy Ryan and ruthlessly implemented by Hall of Famers such as Dan “Danimal” Hampton and “Samurai” Mike Singletary. On the sidelines, in the locker rooms and in bars, there was the never-ending soap opera: the coach and the quarterback bickering on TV, Ditka and Ryan nearly coming to blows in the Orange Bowl, the players recording the “Super Bowl Shuffle” video the morning after the season’s only loss.

Cohen tracked down the coaches and players from this iconic team and asked them everything he has always wanted to know: What’s it like to win? What’s it like to lose? Do you really hate the guys on the other side? Were you ever scared? What do you think as you lie broken on the field? How do you go on after you have lived your dream but life has not ended?

The result is Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football, a portrait not merely of a team but of a city and a game: its history, its future, its fallen men, its immortal heroes. But mostly it’s about being a fan—about loving too much. This is a book about America at its most nonsensical, delirious, and joyful.

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Rich Cohen The Fish That Ate the Whale

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The Fish That Ate the Whale

When Samuel Zemurray arrived in America in 1891, he was tall, gangly, and penniless. When he died in the grandest house in New Orleans sixty-nine years later, he was among the richest, most powerful men in the world. In between, he worked as a fruit peddler, a banana hauler, a dockside hustler, and a plantation owner. He battled and conquered the United Fruit Company, becoming a symbol of the best and worst of the United States: proof that America is the land of opportunity, but also a classic example of the corporate pirate who treats foreign nations as the backdrop for his adventures. In Latin America, when people shouted “Yankee, go home!” it was men like Zemurray they had in mind.

Rich Cohen’s brilliant historical profile The Fish That Ate the Whale unveils Zemurray as a hidden kingmaker and capitalist revolutionary, driven by an indomitable will to succeed. Known as El Amigo, the Gringo, or simply Z, the Banana Man lived one of the great untold stories of the last hundred years. Starting with nothing but a cart of freckled bananas, he built a sprawling empire of banana cowboys, mercenary soldiers, Honduran peasants, CIA agents, and American statesmen. From hustling on the docks of New Orleans to overthrowing Central American governments, from feuding with Huey Long to working with the Dulles brothers, Zemurray emerges as an unforgettable figure, connected to the birth of modern American diplomacy, public relations, business, and war—a monumental life that reads like a parable of the American dream.

REVIEWS:
Smithsonian Magazine
Booklist Review
BookPage
The Forward
The New York Sun
Time

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Rich Cohen Alex and the Amazing Time Machine

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Alex and the Amazing Time Machine

Alex Trumble is a pretty ordinary kid—except for the fact that his IQ borders on genius, and he loves to read books on vortexes and time travel. But when two angry hit men kidnap his big brother Steven, Alex’s life changes fast. Inventing a time machine (using an iPod, mirrors, duct tape, and a laser pointer) is only half the battle. With the help of the time-bending Dingus, Alex and his best friend Todd must travel back in time to collect clues, outwit the bad guys, and race against the clock to save his family from total oblivion.

Rich Cohen From Hither To You

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From Hither To You
(Kindle edition)

Will 2012 come to be known as Year Zero in the Age of Time Travel? Will the current century be defined by the wormhole and the time machine as the last was defined by the jet engine and space travel?

Rich Cohen spent months reading the reports and studying the data, interviewing world-renowned physicists in the United States, Russia and Japan, some of whom believe we are indeed on the verge of a new era. Time travel, where the mathematics of Einstein’s Universe inevitably leads, was once the province of tin hat wearing nutters; in the last few years, it has become a legitimate field of study, respectable. As T.H. White wrote in The Once and Future King, “Anything that can happen, will happen.” And, as the Einstein’s numbers tell us, Anything that will happen, has happened.

In this hilarious, mood altering essay, Cohen sets out to answer a few simple questions about time travel: how, when, and what will it mean? It’s a Borgesian investigation, the field work of a metaphysical detective, following leads down a rabbit hole into a world of parallel universes and altered time, where my second feels like a second but your second is a hundred thousand years. In the end, it’s a story of paradox, where every road forks: if you read this story, and this story causes you to build a time machine, and you use this machine to go back and kill Rich Cohen before he learns of time travel, thus does not write this story, meaning you do not read it and build the time machine, then Rich Cohen (thank God!) lives to write the story, which you read, then build a time machine . . . well, you get the idea.

Rich Cohen When I Stop Talking

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When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead

Here is the story of Jerry Weintraub: the self-made, Brooklyn-born, Bronx-raised impresario, Hollywood producer, legendary deal maker, and friend of politicians and stars. No matter where nature has placed him--the club rooms of Brooklyn, the Mafia dives of New York's Lower East Side, the wilds of Alaska, or the hills of Hollywood--he has found a way to put on a show and sell tickets at the door. "All life was a theater and I wanted to put it up on a stage," he writes. "I wanted to set the world under a marquee that read: 'Jerry Weintraub Presents.'"

In WHEN I STOP TALKING, YOU'LL KNOW I'M DEAD, we follow Weintraub from his first great success at age twenty-six with Elvis Presley, whom he took on the road; to the immortal days with Sinatra and Rat Pack glory; to his crowning hits as a movie producer, starting with Robert Altman and Nashville, continuing with Oh, God!, The Karate Kid movies, and Diner, among others, and summiting with Steven Soderbergh and Ocean's Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.

Along the way, we'll watch as Jerry moves from the poker tables of Palm Springs, to the power rooms of Hollywood, to the halls of the White House, to Red Square in Moscow-all the while counseling potentates, poets, and kings, with clients and confidants like George Clooney, Bruce Willis, George H. W. Bush, Armand Hammer, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, John Denver, Bobby Fischer . . .well, the list goes on

And of course, the story is not yet over . . . As Weintraub says, "When I stop talking, you'll know I'm dead."

Rich Cohen Isreal Is Real

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Israel Is Real

In AD 70, when the Second Temple was destroyed, a handful of visionaries saved Judaism by reinventing it, taking what had been a national religion and turning it into an idea. Whenever a Jew studied—wherever he was—he would be in the holy city, and his faith preserved. But in our own time, Zionists have turned the book back into a temple, and unlike an idea, a temple can be destroyed. With exuberance, humor, and real scholarship, Israel is Real offers "a serious attempt by a gifted storyteller to enliven and elucidate Jewish religious, cultural, and political history . . . A powerful narrative" (Los Angeles Times).

REVIEWS:
New York Times Book Review
LA Times
Jerusalem Post

Rich Cohen Sweet and Low

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Sweet and Low

Sweet and Low is the bittersweet, hilarious story of Ben Eisenstadt, who invented sugar packets and Sweet'N Low, and amassed the great fortune that would later destroy his family. It is a story of immigrants, Jewish gangsters, and Brooklyn; of sugar, saccharine, obesity, and diet crazes; of jealousy, betrayal, and ambition. Disinherited along with his mother and siblings, Rich Cohen has written a rancorous, colorful history of his extraordinary family and their pursuit of the American dream.

REVIEWS:
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
New York Times Book Review
The London Review of Books
Time Out New York
Salon
USA Today

Rich Cohen Machers and Rockers

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Machers and Rockers

A tour-de-force history of Jews, blues, and the birth of a new industry.
On the south side of Chicago in the late 1940s, two immigrants—one a Jew born in Russia, the other a black blues singer from Mississippi—met and changed the course of musical history. Muddy Waters electrified the blues, and Leonard Chess recorded it. Soon Bo Diddly and Chuck Berry added a dose of pulsating rhythm, and Chess Records captured that, too. Rock & roll had arrived, and an industry was born.

In a book as vibrantly and exuberantly written as the music and people it portrays, Rich Cohen tells the engrossing story of how Leonard Chess, with the other record men, made this new sound into a multi-billion-dollar business—aggressively acquiring artists, hard-selling distributors, riding the crest of a wave that would crash over a whole generation. Full of absorbing lore and animated by a deep love for popular music, Machers and Rockers is a smash hit. 12 illustrations.

About the series: W. W. Norton and Atlas Books announce the launch of a dynamic new series: ENTERPRISE pairs distinguished writers with stories of the economic forces that have shaped the modern world—the institutions, the entrepreneurs, the ideas. Enterprise introduces a new genre—the business book as literature.

REVIEWS:
Businessweek
San Diego Union Tribune

Rich Cohen Lake Effect

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Lake Effect

A New York Times Notable Book

Winner of the Great Lakes Book Award and the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library

Raised in an affluent suburb on the North Shore of Chicago, Rich Cohen had a cluster of interesting friends, but none more interesting than Jamie Drew. Fatherless, reckless, and lower middle class in a place that wasn’t, Jamie possessed such an irresistible insouciance and charm that even the teachers called him Drew-licious. Through the high school years of parties and Cub games and girls, of summer nights on the beach and forbidden forays into the blues bars of Chicago’s notorious South Side, the two formed an inseparable bond. Even after Cohen went to college in New Orleans (Jamie went to Kansas) and then moved to New York, where he had a memorable interlude with the legendary New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell, Jamie remained oddly crucial to his life. Exquisite and taut, Lake Effect is a bittersweet coming-of-age story that quietly bores to the essence of friendship and how it survives even as it is destined to change.

REVIEWS:
Janet Maslin, New York Times
New York Times Book Review

Rich Cohen The Avengers

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The Avengers

Rich Cohen, author of the acclaimed Tough Jews, again narrates a little-known episode of Jewish history, this time altering what we thought we knew about the Holocaust.

Abba Kovner, Vitka Kempner, Ruzka Korczak-comrades, lovers, friends. In the Lithuanian ghetto of Vilna, they were the heart of a breathtakingly courageous underground movement, and when the ghetto was liquidated, they fled to the forests and joined other partisans in continued sabotage and resistance. Riveting, poignant and uplifting, The Avengers is a powerful exploration of resistance and revenge, of courage and dedication, and an inside look at some of the intrepid individuals who fought against the Holocaust and the nazi occupation of Europe.

REVIEWS:
New York Times Book Review

Rich Cohen Tough Jews

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Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams

In an L.A. delicatessen, a group of Brooklyn natives gets together to discuss basketball, boxing, the weather back east, and the Jewish gangsters of yesteryear. Meyer Lansky. Bugsy Siegel. Louis Lepke, the self-effacing mastermind of Murder, Inc. Red Levine, the Orthodox hit man who refused to kill on the Sabbath. Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, who looked like a mama's boy but once buried a rival alive. These are just some of the vibrant, vicious characters Rich Cohen's father reminisced about and the author evokes so pungently in Tough Jews.

Tracing a generation of Jewish gangsters from the candy stores of Brownsville to the clubhouses of the Lower East Side--and, occasionally, to suites at the Waldorf--Cohen creates a densely anecdotal and gruesomely funny history of muscle, moxie, and money. Filled with fixers and schlammers, the squeal of tires and the rattle of gunfire, his book shatters stereotypes as deftly as its subjects once shattered kneecaps.

REVIEWS:
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
New York Times Book Review