Spring 2014: Rich Cohen
Rich Cohen, notable non-fiction writer, was born in Lake Forest Illinois on July 30, 1968. Raised in the suburb of Glencoe in Chicago, he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Arts from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Cohen's first book, Tough Jews, a historical account of Jewish gangsters of Brooklyn in the 1930s, was published in 1998. Vincent Patrick, of The New York Times, said, "The stories Cohen tells are marvelous, and the writing good enough to cause one, at times, to reread a page in order to savor the description -- a fine example is his reconstruction of the 1935 bris of Charlie (The Bug) Workman's son Solomon in their Lower East Side apartment, into which were crowded some of the most important criminals in America. He brings to the material a sense of intense nostalgia for Brooklyn of the 1930's and 40's and for 'the Jewish gangsters themselves -- that vanished, half-forgotten breed, whose dramatic lives even now, so many years later, hang like smoke in the air.'"
Cohen's second book, The Avengers: a Jewish War Story, published in 2000, looks at the struggles of Nazi opposers in Lithuania towards the end of World War II. Alfred Knoft of Publishers Weekly, praised the book, saying, "Cohen (Tough Jews: Father, Sons and Gangster Dreams) delivers a compelling story that not only amplifies the accepted version of Jewish experience in the Second World War, but also provides a terrific narrative of courage and tenacity."
In 2012, Cohen published his book, The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King. Following the life of Sam Zemurray, a Russian immigrant who soon became one of America's premiere businessmen, the nonfiction book has been called "immensely readable" and "as good an example of the American promise as one could imagine" (James Auley, The Washington Post). Cohen's "banana book" presents a look at the United Fruit Company that few have heard, as well as the man that made it what it is today.
In October of 2013, Cohen's most recent book was released. Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football looks at one of the world's most popular sports, football through the perspective of the Chicago Bears. Joseph Epstein of the Wall Street Journal, wrote,"Rich Cohen's Monsters is the best book on professional football I know."
Rich Cohen has contributed writing for The New Yorker, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and The Atlantic. He has been the recipient of multiple awards. Thus far, he has been awarded the Great Lakes Book Award (2002), the Chicago Public Library Twentieth Century Award (2002), the New York Times Notable Book (2002, 2006), ASCAP Deems Taylor Award (2005), Salon Book Award (2006), The New York Times Hundred Best Books of the Year (2006), The Best American Essays (2008), The New York Times Book Reviews Editor's Choice (2009).
Today, Rich Cohen lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut and acts as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stones Magazine.