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Chris and Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling's Cocktail Of Death Paperback – 19 Nov 2009
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"Irvin Muchnick is hell-bent on discovering the essence of the cover-ups. [H]e provides more details and more insights that ultimately increase frustrations, but at the same time, must be examined if you choose, like myself, to claim to be an informed fan of an industry that had its blissful ignorance torn to shreds." --"Wrestling Observer"
"The tragic events surrounding the Benoit murder-suicide calls out for greater scrutiny, and Muchnick painstakingly obliges." --Alternative Weekly Network
"Incredible retelling of the tragic story . . . Highly recommended." --Georgia Wrestling Online
"A great read for anyone who cares about wrestling or is interested in true crime." --Bookgasm.com
"An extremely well written account . . . the best book published on the subject to date. Trust me when I say there is a lot to be learned in reading this book." --PW Mania
About the Author
Irvin Muchnick is the author of "Wrestling Babylon" and the coauthor of "Benoit." His work has appeared in the" New York Times," "Penthouse," and the" Village Voice." He is the nephew of legendary wrestling promoter Sam Muchnick. He lives in Berkeley, California.
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That said, I'm no Chris Benoit "mark", looking to excuse what he did in killing his wife and child. I'm also by no means a brainwashed acolyte of Vince McMahon and the WWE. Benoit's murderous rampage was one of a number of times over the last ten years that I've asked myself "is wrestling worth it?" Perhaps Ivan Muchnick, and Foreward writer Phil Mushnick, would therefore be more than a little saddened that despite the undoubted tragedies that have occurred to wrestlers over the years I still watch the product, albeit to a far less degree than I did a decade ago.
And that seems to be the raison d'etre of this book. How could someone proclaim to be a "fan" of professional wrestling knowing that so many performers have to take drugs just to survive the schedule that brings us our entertainment?
The problem is that the book just doesn't really convince. Muchnick mentions his blog on more than one occasion (and that, along with the incessant plugs in the footnotes in the book for the "companion DVD" of various documentation pertaining to the case, soon becomes annoying and is almost worthy of a reccommendation to bypass the book altogether) and it seems as if that is the style of writing that suits him most. The chapters seem randomly inserted, with no real narrative flow. Read in isolation most would be fine, if rather unexceptional; as a cohesive whole the book is completely lacking.
In a way, this is very sad. Even if I remain unconvinced that there is as much of a WWE "conspiracy" as Muchnick would want us to believe it is clear that there are important questions to consider over the WWE's reaction to the story as it broke. Even allowing for the fact that a company would naturally seek to enter "damage limitation" mode upon hearing the news, it's not clear exactly how much the WWE knew and when. Sadly, after reading this book you will be none the wiser. You will get accusations, carefully worded, but precious little convincing evidence to back up Muchnick's claims. At best, you are left feeling a frustration that the relevant authorities don't seem to have done the most thorough or professional investigation.
All this would be bad enough if this was a book rushed out to "cash-in" on the notoriety of the murders; that it appears over two years later makes the lack of clarity, real evidence and cohesion all the more galling.
Most readers will know that wrestling and wrestlers have a long-standing problem with both "recreational" drugs and steroids. Most would agree that Benoit's troubles with drugs must have contributed to his actions. Fewer, other than those already pre-disposed against wrestling, the WWE and Vince McMahon in particular, will read this and have their eyes opened. The book is so muddled, jumping from one part of the timeline to another with little rhyme or reason (which is ironic given the dissection of the WWE's timeline of events surrounding the Benoit tragedy that pervades the book) that few will have the patience to notice the very real questions that wrestling, and perhaps society as a whole, still have to answer.
Chris Benoit had a drug problem and that problem contributed to his actions in June 2007. Drugs were, and probably still remain, a problem that the WWE needs to address. You don't need to read this wasted opportunity of a book to know that, and reading it won't add very much to the discussion.
Since the early 2000's all of these questions have been answered and there are some fantastic books and DVD's that fill in the blanks from things you might not have known when you were a kid. However, there were also some "storylines" that were not staged, the Montreal screw job, for instance, and the Benoit story is perhaps the most significant because the extent of the tragedy and the shockwaves that it sent through the wrestling world. And so I approached this book with a sense of optimism that some light may have been shed on this morally abhorrent crime.
I am sorry to say that this was certainly not the case. I do not feel that I know any more about the Benoit events than I did before I picked the book up. What is so frustrating about it is just how appallingly it is written. The author shows absolutely no command over the English language to a point where paragraphs and not just sentences make absolutely no sense. His frames of reference are bizarre and contain a number of sayings and analogies that I have never heard before. There is also no effort made to make any reasoned analysis of the murderers. The book is so heavily polemical that everything, not just in wrestling but in the world, is the fault of Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWE.
I am still puzzled as to what the author was trying to achieve with this book. If, as it is assumed, was to convince the wrestling world that Vince McMahon's evil intent and distribution of steroids was to blame for the murder-suicide of the Benoit's, then the method in which he does it is so incoherent and badly put together then even this fails.
In short, I would not recommend this book to anyone with an interest in wrestling or in spending your time productively