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Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top Paperback – June 5, 2007

42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The soap opera that is the Boston Red Sox is in full bloom in Mnookin's (Hard Times) tale about how the organization coalesced to finally bring Red Sox Nation its first world championship since 1918. After reviewing the dismal bigoted history of Boston—it was the last team to integrate, in 1959, and somehow managed to snub both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays—Mnookin, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, explains how the sale of the Sox to a group led by John Henry resulted in changing the direction of the franchise. And like a true soap opera, this one is filled with heroes and villains. There are the ballplayers (Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Curt Schilling) and the executives (owner Henry, CEO Larry Lucchino and GM Theo Epstein). There are the intangibles like Fenway Park—to stay or not to stay, that is one of the questions—and the highly opinionated sportswriters of Boston, Peter Gammons, Dan O'Shaughnessy and the late Will McDonough. There is enough inside stuff here to send the average Red Sox fan into baseball ecstasy—and put the rest of the baseball world into a coma. Part Money Ball, part Ball Four and all Red Sox, this title was written for one audience—Red Sox Nation—and they will love it. (July 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A rare glimpse into baseball's inner sanctum." -- Steve Almond, Los Angeles Times

"A Moneyball-style triumph of smart management over conventional wisdom and a redemptive story of athletic success as an expression of inner strength." -- Lev Grossman, Time

"A revealing . . . account that should engage even readers with little attachment to Red Sox Nation." -- Mark Hyman, BusinessWeek

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743286820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743286824
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Seth Mnookin is the co-director of MIT's Graduate Program of Science Writing and is the author of three books. His most recent, 2011's THE PANIC VIRUS: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE VACCINE-AUTISM CONTROVERSY, won the National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Book Award, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of The Wall Street Journal's Top 5 Health and Medicine books of the year. In 2006, he published the national bestseller FEEDING THE MONSTER: HOW MONEY, SMARTS AND NERVE TOOK A TEAM TO THE TOP, which chronicled the rise of the Boston Red Sox and their 2004 World Series win. Seth's first book was 2004's HARD NEWS: THE SCANDALS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THEIR MEANING FOR AMERICAN MEDIA, which was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year.

Seth began his career as a rock critic for the now-defunct webzine Addicted to Noise. He's been a police reporter at The Palm Beach Post, a political reporter at Brill's Content, a music columnist at The New York Observer, and a national affairs reporter at Newsweek. Since 2005 he's been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, where he's reported from Iraq, written about Stephen Colbert, and delved into plagiarism accusations against Dan Brown. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker, New York, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, Spin, Slate, Salon, and other publications. He graduated from Harvard College in 1994 with a degree in the History of Science and was a 2004 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. A native of Newton, Massachusetts, he and his wife currently live in Brookline with their two children and adopted dog.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By soxfan87 on July 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In general, I enjoyed this book; Seth Mnookin is a good writer, if a little bland, and the book flowed nicely. But it had plenty of problems. Let's make a list:

The Good

1)It's easy to understand, even if you don't know too much about baseball. I consider myself an avid Red Sox fan and a baseball connoisseur, so explanations of ERA and batting average bored me, but it does make the book more inclusive to a wider audience. It also includes a brief history of the team for those that are less familiar with it.

2)There are plenty of entertaining anecdotes and side stories in here. The sections on Nomar are particularly well-done. I now have more background information on the Red Sox ownership troika than I would have ever thought possible. What an interesting group of people.

3)The section on the sale of the team would make a new book in and of itself, and is very well-done and interesting, providing you have a rudimentary understanding of economics and finance. If you don't, or hate numbers, prepare to be bored silly and skip about 75 pages.

4)There is a lot of new information on the process that brought about the Schilling trade. I found the tale of Jed Hoyer's ugly Thanksgiving stomach virus to be two of the funniest paragraphs in the whole book, though I'm sure Jed would disagree.

5)And, of course, the famous Epstein/Lucchino rift is very well-documented and traced, to the point that I found myself getting frustrated with the characters for not noticing that Theo was acting increasingly bizarre and doing something about it months earlier. If Mnookin noticed, somebody else should have. A very nice job leading into the final explosion.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alex on August 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love this book. I was 10 in 1967 when I first joined "The Nation," and your summaries of games of the past is spot on, including things I remember and things I had completely forgotten about. Reading Feeding the Monster was like reading about your immediate family, with parts you want to relive and parts that are painful to think about. I read it through so quickly because I couldn't wait to find out what happened in every chapter, even though I obviously already knew the final results. Then I went back and read it more slowly and savored every page. I'm glad the book sets the record straight for a lot of us about what happened with the team historically, the sale of the team to John Henry, and what goes on now behind closed doors most of us could have never hoped to open. I've never read anything that had such amazing details about a team's makeup, about player negotiations, and about the pressures of playing (and working) in sports (or in Boston). I've also never read such poetic descriptions (and intimate details) about what goes on on the field and how the players do what they do. The chapters on David Ortiz are worth it in and of themselves. I'd recommend it not just to Red Sox fans but to baseball fans, people who want to learn about American business, and people interested in social history. Even Yankees fans will enjoy it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on July 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
After reading all of the hype about this book, I was prepared to be disappointed. Between all the reviews and articles, I thought I had read all of the revelations. I was totally wrong and I've never had a perspective like this one. I've read many, many books about the sport and have never read anything that combined management and ownership and players and the on-field aspect like this one. I think it's probably something I'll go back and read repeatedly as time goes on, like "9 Innings" and "Moneyball" and "Ball Four" combined into one.

Because people are so passionate about the Red Sox and about baseball I suspect there will be lots of different reactions to the book. Already it seems to have angered those who think they're the only "true" fans. Take the review in the Globe, where the writer (a host of a sports show) said he would prefer to remain ignorant (his words, not mine) about what actually happens in the game, or one of the reviews here written by Bill Nowlin, who has written many, many books of his own about the Red Sox (eight since 2004 alone). He makes fun of the title but doesn't say he's good friends with Rob Neyer and took part in research for Neyer's book. He also says this book made a mistake by saying Kevin Youkilis was on the World Series roster, but Youkilis was indeed on the roster, replacing Ramiro Mendoza, who'd proven himself utterly worthless in the ALCS.

I think that's to be expected when writing about baseball and the Red Sox. People feel very strongly about both, regardless of what else is going on in the world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jane Smith on July 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
My husband brought this book home and I could not have been less excited: I'm a Cardinals fan (married to a Yankees fan, which is hard), and I didn't think I ever wanted to think (or read) about the 2004 World Series again. Then I started reading the introduction and felt this was the most amazing book about baseball ever written. It's poetic, gripping, and full of juicy information and so knowledgable and detailed at the same time. The two of us fought over it at night - and neither of us would have expected to read it (or enjoy it!) when we started. Some of the statistical information will seem common sense to fans (like explaining batting average) and some will seem obscure (like talking about "defensive metrics") but that's a tiny thing in a majestic book. I loved it!
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