The Cubs: A Complete History

Richard A. Johnson, Other, Glenn Stout, Text by (Art/Photo Books) . Houghton Mifflin $40 (460p) ISBN 978-0-618-59500-6

A definitive account of the last remaining team to have gone almost a century without earning a World Series championship, this illustrated team history displays the superb gifts that have graced the authors' similar studies (Yankees Century ; The Dodgers ). Stout combines skillful writing with methodical research to produce detailed and insightful reporting on the truth behind team myths. (The book is not authorized by the Cubs organization.) He shows how the 1906 Cubs, “perhaps the best club of that time period,” won the 1907 and 1908 world championships while also being “underachievers” who quickly collapsed after their championships. He notes long-time owner P.K. Wrigley took almost seven seasons after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers to sign black players. And his account of the 1969 season, when they lost the division title to that year's “Amazin' Mets,” deftly shows that the team really wasn't as good as its record looked, with too many wins earned against weaker new expansion teams. Johnson's copious selection of photographs brilliantly displays all Cub eras in their glory and misery, from a cover photo of “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks joyously clicking his heels in Wrigley Field, to a full-page photo of a black cat crossing third baseman Ron Santo's path during a game against the Mets that helped decide the fate of the 1969 season. (Oct. 1)

Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
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