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Monster of the Midway: Bronko Nagurski, the 1943 Chicago Bears, and the Greatest Comeback Ever Paperback – August 12, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (August 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031230868X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312308681
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,265,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bronko Nagurski is arguably the best name ever for a football player. Or maybe it just seems that way now, because we associate the name with the accomplishments of a legendary athlete. Born in International Falls, Minnesota, of immigrant parents, Nagurski became an All-American at the University of Minnesota and joined the Chicago Bears of the fledgling National Football League in 1930. He and penurious Bear owner George Halas clashed over his salary, and he left football to become a wrestler after the 1937 season, returning to the Bears in 1943 to lead the team to a championship. Dent interviewed many of Nagurski's friends, relatives, and former teammates. They reveal a taciturn man motivated by fierce pride and a work ethic based on a concept of a day's pay for a day's work. This serviceable biography fills in the details behind a fascinating chapter in early pro football history, but there are no great revelations. Nagurski was a regular fellow who happened to be an extraordinary athlete (with a great name). Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Fills in the details behind a fascinating chapter in early pro football history."
--Booklist

More About the Author

Jim Dent is a New York Times bestselling author who has written nine books.
His latest, "Courage Beyond The Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story,'' was selected as one of the best nonfiction books of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews. It was also named one of the top eight biographies of the year. The book focuses on the life of Freddie Steinmark, who started nineteen straight winning games at the University of Texas and was an All-Southwest Conference performer on the 1969 national championship team. He played that year with an excruciatingly painful osteosarcoma in his left thighbone. Still, Steinmark left the field only once in the final regular season game against Arkansas. Texas defeated Arkansas 15-14 in the "Game Of The Century'' and went on to defeat Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Steinmark's story has been compared to "Brian's Song'' and is expected to reach the big screen in 2012. Another one of Dent's bestselling books, "Twelve Mighty Orphans,'' is also slated for movie theaters before the end of the year. For more information on Dent, check out Facebook, along with his "Courage Beyond The Game'' page that includes two video documentaries on Steinmark's life. You might also want to read "The Junction Boys,'' that was adapted into an ESPN movie in 2002. Dent is currently working on his tenth book, along with producing the movie on Steinmark.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
Has a very nice flow to it.
Eric Mayes
Jim Dent tells the story of Bronko Nagurski's football career.
A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com
I got this book for school and I still like to read.
John Wickham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Frederick Haulenbeek on October 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
On the strength of Jim Dent's other books, I preordered "Monster Of The Midway". The story of Bronko Nagurski, the early years of the Chicago Bears and the NFL is fascinating. However the book is much more. Dent's exhaustive research is evident. He has artfully woven the Nagurski story with a lot of the history and characters of the day. The birth of the NFL, George Halas, prohibition, Al Capone, gambling, the depression, Red Grange, college football and much more are included. Each page creates vivid word pictures that take you back in time and let you experience places like International Falls, Minnesota and Wrigley Field of old as you become acquainted with legends, their incredible stories and a captivating portion of upper Midwest history. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Burns on November 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Readers looking for objective history here will be disappointed. Dent is not interested in presenting a critical biography of a public figure. Rather, *Monster of the Midway* is hero worship in its grandest form. Bronko Nagurski is depicted as the toughest man in a world of tough men. Even when hobbled with arthritis in his mid-30s, Nagurski is shown as a intimidating, powerful football player capable of dominating younger, better-conditioned men through sheer force of will.
Dent's use of voice in this book adds to both its realism and its characterization of Nagurski and his cohorts. The author's voice is very formal, disdaining the casual language often found in sports biographies. On the other hand, when quoting football men, Dent uses the gruff, unpretentious, occasionally crude dialect that we usually associate with aggressive, masculine athletes. The contrast here is effective. Dent does not try to be "one of the guys", and his implied acknowledgement of the distinction between authors and football players is refreshing.
Dent also makes good use of liberal tropes in presenting Nagurski and his Bears as heroic figures. The Bears' 1943 quarterback, Sid Luckman, endured disgusting Anti-Semitic epithets from both opposing fans and players. Dent shows Nagurski and the other Bears exacting retribution for these taunts, with Nagurski himself facing down a bench full of Anti-Semitic spectators in Henry Ford-era Detroit. Their fight against bigotry adds a moral thread to Dent's heroic portrayal of Nagurski's Bears, and it plays well here.
Through all this idealization, Dent is never overtly dishonest.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Bronko Nagurski's comeback with the Chicago Bears in 1943 is just one of the greatest sports stories ever--reading the chapter in which he wins the final regular-season game for them to get into the championship game gave me goosebumps, I swear to God. But I also loved the wonderful atmosphere of the period Dent evokes here, and the many colorful characters--even Al Capone plays a part.
If you've ever read the great Junction Boys, you know what a wonderful writer Jim Dent is. This is his best since that book. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jason VINE VOICE on March 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Whether all minor details of Jim Dent's biographical retelling of Bronko Nagurski's career are accurate is as difficult to verify as it is inconsequential to the story. Nagurski was Paul Bunyan in a helmet, a wrecking ball running back standing 6ft. and weighing 225 lbs. - average offensive linemen of the time weighed slightly less and were considered overweight at 235 lbs. He was legendary from the moment he was "recruited" to play for Minnesota, where his future coach would tell tall tales of a man with extraordinary strength and drive who could lift a plow with vise-grip hands full of fingers requiring 19.5 sized rings. Bronko Nagurski was a man who lived up to the reputation, and often exceeded it.

The greater majority of Monster of the Midway chronicles how the Bronk terrorized the NFL as a Chicago Bear. Read as a historical account, many commonplace changes and advances of the game took place during his era. The T-Formation, the forward pass, the draw play, all intricately connected to Nagurski. Bizarre substitution rules, leather helmets, and two way players were all common during his rugged playing days that favored a heavy dose of between-the-tackles running. Then more of the same. Men were men; wimps and part time players need not apply. Blood is just uniform decoration and some bones don't really need to be straight. During the Bronk's eight seasons, Dent provides game-by-game highlights of the highpoints, concentrating on the feel and the result rather than the minutiae of yards per carry, time of possession, and the cybermetrics of today.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com VINE VOICE on December 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Jim Dent tells the story of Bronko Nagurski's football career. "Monster of the Midway: Bronko Nagurski, the 1943 Chicago Bears, and the Greatest Comeback Ever" is not a biography. It is about a football player and why he became among the greatest players ever, with special emphasis on one season (1943). Dent, however, can't help but to provide the background of Nagurski's early life.

Bronko Nagurski was the Babe Ruth of football. No one was greater, more dominant, more powerful at their sport than Nagurski. Others have played well: We all know about Michael Jordan, Mickey Mantle, and Lance Armstrong, but few have embodied the essence of their sport with such successful excellence. I should mention Muhammad Ali. He often bragged he was the greatest, and he was.

Someone needs to make a movie of this story. Bronko began the Hollywood/Horatio Alger as a hardworking, not too complicated future football hero. He had heart and the physical strength size to back it up. Good true football movies are sparse. There's "Rudy" and "Brian's Song," but that's it. A Bronko Nagurski story could add to this short list.

Most of the book reads like a docudrama, utilizing storytelling techniques rarely found in sports books.

If I were a high school football coach, I would have my players read this book. Bronko Nagurski played the game before the lights shone brightly on the pocketbooks, when the swagger and dance of endzone celebrations were still years away, and the game was still played by big, tough men not pretty enough for white-toothed smiling products endorsements. Nagurski was the kind of player the NFL needs today.

I fully recommend "Monster of the Midway: Bronko Nagurski, the 1943 Chicago Bears, and the Greatest Comeback Ever" by Jim Dent.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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