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Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football Hardcover – October 29, 2013


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Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football + Amazing Tales from the Chicago Bears Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Bears Stories Ever Told (Tales from the Team)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374298688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374298685
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2013: Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football is a touching portrait of what is arguably one of the best--and most colorful--football teams ever. But Rich Cohen, better known as an essayist and editor than a sports writer, brings together an oral history of the Bears (featuring many well-known football figures, including Coach Mike Ditka), the evolution of the game and the league, and glimpses of his own childhood growing up in Chicago into a seamless narrative. Monsters is one of those rare books that transcends its topic without surrendering its enthusiasm for it. Cohen's perspective is both cogent and ambivalent. For example, he describes the quaterback as "a man in pain." He writes, "Via his suffering, we witness our own suffering at a safe remove. We eat chips and drink beer as he's lacerated, stepped on, stomped, taunted, concussed." Monsters is the rare sports book you can recommend to a non-fan as well as the biggest die hard. Really, you could recommend it to anyone who would enjoy a beautifully written, deeply human story. --Kevin Nguyen

From Booklist

Just when no more words could be added to the legacy of one of the great NFL teams of all time—the 1985 Chicago Bears—here’s another title to reanimate the likes of Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary, Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan, and the other players and coaches who made that team so dominant. Cohen (The Fish That Ate the Whale, 2012) does a good job drawing a line from the founding of the team (and the NFL!) by George Halas more than 100 years ago, to the innovations Papa Bear employed to win eight NFL championships, to the hiring of the volatile Ditka to restore a culture of winning to the Bears. The historical context enriches the book, as do Cohen’s explanation of the team’s groundbreaking “46” defense, his lively interviews with principals, and his analyses of what went right with the team, and, in subsequent years, what went wrong. The author too often gets in his own way—“In 1983, I made out with Christine Connor on the grass behind North School” (!)—but not enough to keep this engaging account out of the hands of eager football fans. --Alan Moores

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Customer Reviews

Rich Cohen’s history of the Chicago Bears is a great read, even if you’re not a football fan.
Miranda Dalton
A CHICAGO BEAR AND NFL HISTORY A great book for; Football fans, NFL fans, Chicago Bear fans, and anyone who enjoys reading about competitive sports.
Kevin M. Cooney
One of the most touching anecdotes concerned Walter Payton and his deep distress about not being able to score in the Super Bowl.
Jill Meyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I read Rich Cohen's book about the 1985 Chicago Bears, I looked for various comments or phrases to use as the title of my review of the book. After jotting down quite a few, I settled on one made by Cris Collinsworth, wide receiver for the Bengals in the 1980's. He played against the Bears in several games during his career and was well aware of the talent and the- uh - idiosyncracies displayed by most of the Bears' players and management. And the team's rabid fans, too; mostly Chicagoans who lived with broken promises from their sports teams through the years. We looked at the Bear teams of the 1980's with an almost pathetic yearning for...championship. And in the Superbowl of 1986, played in New Orleans, the team, the fans, and the city received that trophy.

I lived in Chicago in those years and was a long-suffering fan. So was author Rich Cohen, who has written many fine works of non-fiction. Some readers of this book might mind his inserting himself, family, and friends into his book, but for me, it just felt right. Because Cohen uses a bit of his own history to explain the agonies of the Bears fans and supporters, and writes an excellent book on just how the Bears reached the Super Bowl in that single year and how they, then, lost their way.

And by putting that wonderful year in the context of the city and the history of football, he lends the book a perspective missing from most books on sports.

Pro-football grew out of college football in the 1920's. Most players left the game after leaving college but some visionaries like George Halas saw the potential for pro-leagues. The first pro teams tended to be put on by companies, eager to put their names and products out into the media.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By MAXIMILLIAN MUHAMMAD HALL OF FAME on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
the real deal NFL. this was back when the NFL was hit as hard as you wanted to hit and no shame in the game. that Bears team from 85 is the single best Defensive team that i have ever seen. that one year run was scary. they were carting off Quarterbacks like it was no tommorow. you can't imagine that today. and what a cast of Character including there head coach Mike Ditka and a Defensive coach in Buddy RYan whose two sons have made a name for themselves in the modern NFL. Walter Payton one of the Greatest Running backs and Players ever. Jim Mcmahon was a trip out Quarterback. William the fridge Perry was something else. RIchard Dent and Mike SIngleterry who is one of the only Linebackers that i have ever seen who hit guys with his eyes wide open. and who can forget the "Super Bowl Shuffle"?? the only thing a bit amazing is that they didn't win another ring, however for One year they were unlike any other Pro Football team and they made statements every sunday.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gene Taft on October 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A great book about the NFL, past and present, but more than just "another sports book." Beyond the great sports stories, MONSTERS is also a wonderful coming of age memoir that reminds us all what it's like to be young and stupid, caring about the wrong things, but being utterly helpless to stop caring. If you've ever been a "fan"atic about anything, you'll enjoy this book and if you're not careful you might even learn a thing or two about the game of football. At the very least you'll probably have the Super Bowl Shuffle song stuck in your head for a few days. What are you waiting for, buy the book already!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M. Cooney on December 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A CHICAGO BEAR AND NFL HISTORY

A great book for; Football fans, NFL fans, Chicago Bear fans, and anyone who enjoys reading about competitive sports. I will be checking out other Rich Cohen books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. Beller on November 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I read some of this book excerpted in Esquire and GQ. And it was great. But I bought it because it is by Rich Cohen. I have read several of the author's other books, Sweet and Low, The Fish That Ate the Whale, Israel is Real, The Record Men. They have been so various in subject matter yet unified by the wonderfull story telling voice of Cohen. He has a voice that translates history into stories that are breathless and true. And he simultaneously translates stories, in all their particularity, into history, where you can see how they fit into the grand scheme of things. He makes you feel like you can feel the wind of life rushing by your face. In his books there is great range of subject matter, but always the voice bringing you along. You have to read him.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Zachary H. Bissonnette on November 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best praise I can give for this book is that I'd never heard of the 1985 Chicago Bears before I bought it. I bought it only because Rich Cohen wrote it (The Fish that Ate the Whale is one of my favorite books ever) and didn't read anything about it before I read it.
Everything about it is just incredibly interesting--there's a great narrative about fleeting success, lost dreams, and a real darkness, but there's also funny stuff on every other page.
The history of the early NFL is really interesting and well-integrated. Amazon said it's the best book of the month but it's probably the best book of the year.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By EJ on November 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not a person who reads a lot of books about the NFL, and I'm a Steelers fan. Nonetheless, I loved this book. It is really about more than the 1985 Chicago Bears; it is also a story of the game and how it affects the players both physically and mentally.

Cohen provides, of course, the great tale of the '85 Bears, including the team conflicts, strategies, and successes with a brand new assault defense. He gives us fine portraits of the players and coaches themselves, with probably the most detail on Jim McMahon and Mike Ditka, both of whom he interviewed for the book. But the true prize in this Cracker Jack book is that he also includes a great deal of information on the history of the NFL. I found it to be fascinating, but I must caution that if you've already read a lot about the early NFL days (Halas, Thorpe, etc.), this may be somewhat repetitive for you.

Cohen also sprinkles the book with some real concerns about the effects the football has on the players, including the relatively recent data regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He addresses something that I myself have experienced recently as a football fan: the guilt that comes with watching a game for entertainment when human beings can be seriously injured for life. The thoughtful coverage of these issues was a huge bonus to this book. Sweeping it under the rug would have been a grave disservice.

I actually think this book is recommended for just about any reader, football fan or not. But if you are a football fan, then it's promoted to a must-read.
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