Author Rich Cohen

 

 

 

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A captivating blend of reportage and memoir exploring the history of the Chicago Cubs.


When Rich Cohen was eight years old, his father took him to see a Cubs game. On the way out of the park, his father asked him to make a promise. "Promise me you will never be a Cubs fan. The Cubs do not win,” he explained, “and because of that, a Cubs fan will have a diminished life determined by low expectations. That team will screw up your life.” As a result, Cohen became not just a Cubs fan but one of the biggest Cubs fans in the world. In this book, he captures the story of the team, its players and crazy days. Billy Sunday and Ernie Banks, Three Finger Brown and Ryne Sandberg, Bill Buckner, the Bartman Ball, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo – the early dominance followed by a 107 year trek across the wilderness. It’s all here – not just what happened, but what it felt like and what it meant. He searches for the cause of the famous curse. Was it the billy goat, kicked out of Wrigley Field in Game 5 of the 1945 World Series, or does it go back further, to the very origins of the franchise? Driven mad with futility, he went on the road with the team in search of answers, interviewed great players present and past, researched in libraries but also in the bleachers, double-fisted, a frosty malt in each hand, demanding answers. He came to see the curse as a burden but also as a blessing. Cubs fans are unique, emissaries from a higher realm, warning of hubris and vanity. The blue cap with the red C said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” He interviewed the architects of the 2016 Cubs, the team that broke the curse. Here’s what he asked: How the hell did you do it? He was at (almost) every game of the 2016 playoff run – a run that culminated in (maybe) the single greatest baseball game ever played. He was excited but also terrified. Losing is easy. What would it mean to win? Wearing a Yankees hat meant corporate excellence. Wearing a Mets hat meant miracles. But wearing a Cubs hat meant loving the game on its most humdrum afternoon – September 13, 1979, say, 14 games out of first place, Larry Bittner driving in Ivan DeJesus. Would we lose that? Would being a Cubs become ordinary? A mix of memoir, reporting, history and baseball theology, this book, forty years in the making, has never been written because it never could be -- only with the 2016 World Series can the true arc of the story finally be understood

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REVIEWS, EXCERPTS AND ARTICLES:

Kirkus Review

THE CHICAGO CUBS 
Story of a Curse
Author: Rich Cohen

Review Issue Date: September 1, 2017
Online Publish Date: August 21, 2017
Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 288
Price ( Hardcover ): $26.00
Price ( e-book ): $12.99
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-374-12092-4
ISBN ( e-book ): 978-0-374-71731-5
Category: Nonfiction


In 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908—and thereby hangs this tale.Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone contributing editor Cohen (The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones, 2016, etc.), a lifelong Cubs fan, rehearses in swift, entertaining fashion the genesis of the team and its glory years (there were many early on) and long decades of mediocrity, and he introduces us to some key players over the years. Grover Cleveland Alexander, Ernie Banks, Bill Buckner, Hack Wilson, Ron Santo, Sammy Sosa: these and many other celebrated, even infamous names populate the early pages of this love story so full of broken hearts, the author's included. The Cubs frequent losses—and the dominance of the curse, whose origins and manifestations Cohen considers throughout—eventually drove the author to give up on the team and to quit following them. Until, of course, the resurrection, which, Cohen shows, began in 2009 when the Ricketts family purchased the franchise, and made key hires, including team president Theo Epstein and manager Joe Maddon, and promising acquisitions. Finally, hope returned to reign at Wrigley Field, whose story the author also tells us. The concluding 60 or so pages deal with the newly risen Cubs, who didn't quite make it in 2015 but who defeated the Cleveland Indians in seven games in 2016 to finally break the curse. The author provides smooth summaries of each of the seven contests, calling Game 7 "the greatest baseball game of all time." (Tribe fans may disagree.) Cohen's accounts of the team, the players, the games and the culture surrounding the Cubs are brisk and informative, and his many personal stories, strung like holiday lights throughout the narrative, illuminate a fan's frangible heart that annually repaired itself.