The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse

Rich Cohen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-12092-4

Cohen (Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football) offers an energetic account of the drought between the Chicago Cubs’ 1908 World Series win and their incredible triumph in 2016. He nicely details the team’s ups and downs over those 108 years and intersperses his narrative with recollections from his own childhood and early-adult obsession in the 1970s and 80s with the team. His depiction of Cubs lore (“some worldly, some mystical”), such as the glory of first baseman Ernie Banks (“the perfect cub, ideally suited for the role of a great player on a terrible team” from 1953 to 1971) and the near misses of the 1969, 1984, and 2003 seasons, is coupled with informative writing that’s infused with the fatalism of a long-suffering Cubs fan. (He notes that Cubs General Manager Epstein said it would take five years to win a World series, “the same amount of time Stalin said he’d need to create a workers’ paradise.”) He shows how the legendary “curse” on the Cubs has taken many forms over 100 years, such as the curse of the billy goat in the 1945 World Series. The final third of the book is an exciting look at the Cubs’ winning 2016 season that includes a game-by-game description of the playoffs. This book has something new even for the most hardcore Cubs fans. (June)
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