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Rich Cohen

Born: 1968 in Lake Forest, Illinois
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Cohen was born in Lake Forest and grew up in Chicago's North Shore suburb of Glencoe.

Biography: Cohen is a journalist and author. He is contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine and Best American Essays. He currently lives in Connecticut.

  • "Lake Effect"
  • -- Great Lakes Book Award
  • -- 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library

Primary Literary Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Alex and the amazing time machine /
ISBN: 0805094180 OCLC: 746834545

Henry Holt and Co., New York : 2012.

Fifth-grader Alex Trumble builds a "dingus"--A time machine--when his brother Stephen is kidnapped by dangerous, evil time-travelers, to get back to the past and into the future to save his family from disaster.

Israel is real /
ISBN: 0374177783 OCLC: 263984534

In AD 70, when the Second Temple was destroyed, a handful of visionaries saved Judaism by reinventing it--by taking what had been a national religion and turning it into an idea. Jews no longer needed Jerusalem to be Jews. Whenever a Jew studied--wherever he was--he would be in the holy city. But in our own time, Zionists have turned the book back into a temple. In Rich Cohen's new history of the Zionist idea and the Jewish state--the history of a nation chronicled as if it were the biography of a person--he brings to life dozens of figures, each driven by the same impulse: to reach Jerusalem. From false messiahs to the early Zionists, to the iconic figures of David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir Cohen shows how all these lives together form a single story. He examines the myth of the wandering Jew, the paradox of Jewish power, and the triumph and tragedy of the Jewish state.--From publisher description.

Lake effect /
ISBN: 0375725334 OCLC: 52084628

Vintage Books, New York : 2003, ©2002.

An iconic story of American youth and friendship between young men. Rich Cohen writes about growing up on the Great Lakes, about emerging from the shadow of a father, about falling under the spell of an unforgettable friendship -- and about the pain of looking back on that friendship with adult eyes.--From publiaher's description.

Machers and rockers :
ISBN: 1861977662 OCLC: 58554237

Monsters: the 1985 Chicago Bears and the wild heart of football /
ISBN: 0374298688 OCLC: 864391469

"A riveting account of the 1985 Chicago Bears and the author's personal relationship with the football team"--

Pee wees :
ISBN: 0374268010 OCLC: 1153464020

"An exploration of parenting, sports, and the suburbs, all through the sport of children's ice hockey"--

Sweet and low :
ISBN: 0374272298 OCLC: 60668978

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York : 2006.

The bittersweet story of an American family and its patriarch, a short-order cook named Ben Eisenstadt who, in the years after World War II, invented the sugar packet and Sweet'N Low, converting his Brooklyn cafeteria into a factory and amassing the great fortune that would destroy his family. A strange comic farce of machinations and double dealings, it is also the story of immigrants, sugar, saccharine, obesity, and the health and diet craze, played out across countries and generations but also within the life of a single family, as the fortune and the factory passed from generation to generation. The author, Rich Cohen, a grandson (disinherited, and thus set free, along with his mother and siblings), has sought the truth of this rancorous, colorful history, mining thousands of pages of court documents and conducting interviews with members of his extended family.--From publisher description.

The Avengers :
ISBN: 0375705295 OCLC: 43287581

A.A. Knopf, New York : 2000.

In 1944, a band of Jewish guerrillas emerged from the Baltic forest to join the Russian army in its attack on Vilna, the capital of Lithuania. The band, called the Avengers, was led by Abba Kovner, a charismatic young poet. In the ghetto, Abba had built bombs, sneaking out through the city's sewer tunnels to sabotage German outposts. Abba's chief lieutenants were two teenage girls, Vitka Kempner and Ruzka Korczak. At seventeen, Vitka and Ruzka were perhaps the most daring partisans in the East, the first to blow up a Nazi train in occupied Europe. In Vilna, they were the heart of a courageous underground movement, and when the ghetto was liquidated, they fled to the forests and joined other partisans in continued sabotage and resistance. It is a side of war not often seen -- Jews fighting the Nazis on their own terms. It is also the story of three remarkable people able to call themselves comrades, lovers, and friends.

The Chicago Cubs :
ISBN: 0374120927 OCLC: 968557347

After his first Cubs game when Rich Cohen was eight, his father asked him to make a promise. "Promise me you will never be a Cubs fan. The Cubs do not win," he explained, "and because of that, a Cubs fan will have a diminished life determined by low expectations. That team will screw up your life." Here he captures the story of the team, its players and crazy days-- not just what happened, but what it felt like and what it meant. He searches for the cause of the famous curse, and came to see the curse as a burden but also as a blessing.

The fish that ate the whale :
ISBN: 0374299277 OCLC: 757177308

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York : 2012.

A biography of the little-known antihero, Samuel Zemurray (1877-1961), the disgraced mogul of the much hated United Fruit Company who aided the creation of Israel, funded many of Tulane University's buildings, and had a hand in the rise of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

The last pirate of New York :
ISBN: 0399589929 OCLC: 1060178002

Documents the story of underworld legend Albert Hicks, chronicling his mid-nineteenth-century crime spree and the plot gone wrong that culminated in an onboard massacre and manhunt in 1860 Coney Island.

The sun & the moon & the Rolling Stones /
ISBN: 0804179239 OCLC: 921425141

Rich Cohen enters the Stones epic as a young journalist on the road with the band and quickly falls under their sway -- privy to the jokes, the camaraderie, the bitchiness, the hard living. Inspired by a lifelong appreciation of the music that borders on obsession, Cohen's chronicle of the band is informed by the rigorous views of a kid who grew up on the music and for whom the Stones will always be the greatest rock roll band of all time.

Tough Jews /
ISBN: 0375705473 OCLC: 39746756

Vintage Books, New York : 1999.

In an L.A. delicatessen, a group of Brooklyn natives gets together to discuss basketball, boxing, the weather back east, and the Jewish gangsters of yesteryear. Meyer Lansky. Bugsy Siegel. Louis Lepke, the self-effacing mastermind of Murder, Inc. Red Levine, the Orthodox hit man who refused to kill on the Sabbath. Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, who looked like a mama's boy but once buried a rival alive. These are just some of the vibrant, vicious characters Rich Cohen's father reminisced about and the author evokes so pungently in Tough Jews. Tracing a generation of Jewish gangsters from the candy stores of Brownsville to the clubhouses of the Lower East Side--and, occasionally, to suites at the Waldorf--Cohen creates a densely anecdotal and gruesomely funny history of muscle, moxie, and money. Filled with fixers and schlammers, the squeal of tires and the rattle of gunfire, his book shatters stereotypes as deftly as its subjects once shattered kneecaps.

When I stop talking, you'll know I'm dead :
ISBN: 0446548154 OCLC: 464590640

Twelve, New York : 2010.

Here is the story of Jerry Weintraub: the self-made, Brooklyn-born, Bronx-raised impresario, Hollywood producer, legendary deal maker, and friend of politicians and stars. No matter where nature has placed him--the club rooms of Brooklyn, the Mafia dives of New York's Lower East Side, the wilds of Alaska, or the hills of Hollywood, with Elvis or Sinatra, Robert Altman or George Clooney--he has found a way to put on a show and sell tickets at the door. "All life was a theater and I wanted to put it up on a stage," he writes. "I wanted to set the world under a marquee that read: 'Jerry Weintraub Presents.'" With wit, wisdom, and the cool confidence that has colored his remarkable career, Jerry chronicles a quintessentially American journey, one marked by luck, love, and improvisation. The stories he tells and the lessons we learn are essential, not just for those who love movies and music, but for businessmen, entrepreneurs, artists--everyone.--From publisher description.