In 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908—and thereby hangs this tale.
Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone contributing editor Cohen (The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones, 2016, etc.), a lifelong Cubs fan, rehearses in swift, entertaining fashion the genesis of the team and its glory years (there were many early on) and long decades of mediocrity, and he introduces us to some key players over the years. Grover Cleveland Alexander, Ernie Banks, Bill Buckner, Hack Wilson, Ron Santo, Sammy Sosa: these and many other celebrated, even infamous names populate the early pages of this love story so full of broken hearts, the author’s included. The Cubs' frequent losses—and the dominance of the curse, whose origins and manifestations Cohen considers throughout—eventually drove the author to give up on the team and to quit following them. Until, of course, the resurrection, which, Cohen shows, began in 2009 when the Ricketts family purchased the franchise and made key hires, including team president Theo Epstein and manager Joe Maddon, and promising acquisitions. Finally, hope returned to reign at Wrigley Field, whose story the author also tells us. The concluding 60 or so pages deal with the newly risen Cubs, who didn’t quite make it in 2015 but who defeated the Cleveland Indians in seven games in 2016 to finally break the curse. The author provides smooth summaries of each of the seven contests, calling Game 7 “the greatest baseball game of all time.” (Tribe fans may disagree.)
Cohen’s accounts of the team, the players, the games and the culture surrounding the Cubs are brisk and informative, and his many personal stories, strung like holiday lights throughout the narrative, illuminate a fan’s frangible heart that annually repaired itself.