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

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

Rich Cohen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-374-29868-5

Almost 30 years after the Chicago Bears won their first and only Super Bowl, that team with its wild assortment of tough players and coaches still capture the imagination%E2%80%94and fuel the current fantasies%E2%80%94of Chicago's die-hard football fans. Cohen, (The Fish That Ate the Whale), who grew up as a suburban Chicago Bears fan and witnessed first-hand the Bears' victory when he was 17, deftly captures how the team "played with a gleeful excess that seemed a perfect expression of the city%E2%80%94its character, its toughness, its heartbreaks, its history." While Cohen covers much of the same ground as other books on the '85 Bears, he is especially good at detailing the rivalry between coach Mike Ditka and his defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, whose defensive line viewed him as Ditka's equal, "the god each player was working toward as well as the mad scientist turning the levers." His fan's perspective added to his excellent reporting and engrossing interviews produce great insights into the team's colorful stars: legendary running back Walter Payton and his personal struggles; Dan "Danimal" Hampton and the brutal Monsters of the Midway defense; the 300-plus pound "Refrigerator" Perry; and quarterback Jim McMahon with his bad-boy persona, who, according to Ditka, arrived at Bears camp with "'a beer in his hand and a six-pack under his arm." (Nov.)