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 4-6: 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. (description from publisher)
Chicago in the Roaring Twenties was a city of immigrants, mobsters, and flappers with one shared passion: the Chicago Cubs. It all began with the decision of the chewing-gum tycoon William Wrigley to build the world’s greatest ball club in the nation’s Second City. In this Jazz Age center, the maverick Wrigley exploited the revolutionary technology of broadcasting and attracted eager throngs of women to his renovated ballpark.
Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club transports us to this heady era of baseball history and introduces the team at its crazy heart – an amalgam of rakes, pranksters, schemers, and choirboys who take centre stage in memorable successes and disasters. Readers take front-row seats to meet one Hall of Famer after another – Grover Cleveland Alexander, Rogers Hornsby, Joe McCarthy, Lewis “Hack” Wilson, Gabby Hartnett. The cast of characters also includes their colorful if less-sung teammates and the Cubs’ nemesis, Babe Ruth, who terminates the ambitions of Mr. Wrigley’s ball club with one emphatic swing. (description from publisher)
City of Scoundrels is the masterfully told story of twelve volatile days in the life of Chicago, when an aviation disaster, a race riot, a crippling transit strike, and a sensational child murder transfixed and roiled a city already on the brink of collapse.
When 1919 began, the city of Chicago seemed on the verge of transformation. Modernizers had an audacious, expensive plan to turn the city from a brawling, unglamorous place into “the Metropolis of the World.” But just as the dream seemed within reach, pandemonium broke loose and the city’s highest ambitions were suddenly under attack by the same unbridled energies that had given birth to them in the first place. It began on a balmy Monday afternoon when a blimp in flames crashed through the roof of a busy downtown bank, incinerating those inside. Within days, a racial incident at a hot, crowded South Side beach spiraled into one of the worst urban riots in American history, followed by a transit strike that paralyzed the city. Then, when it seemed as if things could get no worse, police searching for a six-year-old girl discovered her body in a dark North Side basement.
Meticulously researched and expertly paced, City of Scoundrels captures the tumultuous birth of the modern American city, with all of its light and dark aspects in vivid relief. (description from publisher)
In Chicago, truth is truly stranger than fiction, but the fiction is awfully good, too!
Scott Simon’s Windy City: A Novel of Politics was published in a very timely manner, this last year. The comic novel involves a poisoned mayor and the exploits of the 50 Chicago alderman who want to determine the next mayor. Simon grew up in Chicago and is a long time National Public Radio host.
“I think politics is a local specialty in Chicago, the way that blues and improvisational comedy is a local specialty,” Simon says.
Scott Turow is generally acknowledged as the best legal fiction writer in the business. Presumed Innocent was one of the first really big legal blockbusters and is a classic in the genre. Turow’s Kindle County is a thinly disguised Cook County, As s a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, he’s had first hand knowledge of fraud and corruption. If you want insight into the Chicago way of doing politics check him out.
Sara Paretsky‘s books immerse the reader in the South Side setting. The heroine, V.I. Warshawski, is a whiskey-drinking private eye who grew up among the steel mills.She first appeared in 1982, and was groundbreaking as a tough female p.i., in a male dominated genre.