Book Details

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PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing - Winner

About the Book

The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter's heartbreaking account of the life and shocking death of the toughest man in hockey.

Boy on Ice is New York Times reporter John Branch's chronicle of Boogaard's tragic life and death. A human story in the tradition of Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side, it's a book that raises deep and disturbing questions about the systemic brutality of contact sports-from peewees to professionals-and damage that reaches far beyond the game.
Derek Boogaard was a mountain of a man who lived an almost mythic sports story: from pond-hockey on the prairies of Saskatchewan to a first NHL contract in Minnesota, to the storied New York Rangers as the most-feared enforcer in the league. A gentle young man, he was a brutal fighter on ice skates, capable of delivering career-ending punches and intimidating entire teams. But at twenty-eight, his death from an overdose of painkillers in the wake of a series of concussions helped shatter the silence about violence in professional sports.

Boy on Ice is a heart-rending, riveting inside look at the life of an enforcer, a book that, unlike any other, reveals in dynamic fashion the rules on the ice, where reputations are won and careers can depend on a single punch. In the case of Derek Boogaard, his final battle, with prescription medication, cost him his life.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“Highlights the unique power that careful journalism, combined with the unique lens a curious outsider brings to a culture, can add to a story that is already powerful on its own.” —The Globe and Mail

“A gripping work of narrative nonfiction.” —CBC Books

 “A stark account of an NHL tough guy’s descent into despair and addiction.” —Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star

 “A rich, nuanced and essential book.” —Sean Fitz-gerald, National Post

“Shows us, in tender detail, a life consumed by our unholy appetites.” —New York Times Book Review

 “Expos[es] the violent tradition that pushed this young man to the brink.” —Boston Globe

 “A haunting tale.” —Chicago Tribune

 “A thorough, compassionate, if ultimately devastating profile.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“As tense and exciting as a hockey game.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A heartbreaking examination of a young man’s life destroyed by the sport he loved. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“A sad, tragic story that underscores the high human cost of violent entertainment.” —Kirkus Reviews

 “Meticulously reported and beautifully written.” —Christian Science Monitor

“Anything written by John Branch is a compelling must-read. Boy on Ice is transcendent and riveting and his best work yet.” —Al Michaels

“Fascinating and chilling. In meticulous detail, John Branch creates a blood-drenched parable for the hidden human toll of sports violence staged for our entertainment.” —Steve Fainaru, co-author of League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth

“A beautifully written and haunting journey into the jagged psychology of the modern athlete.” —Warren St. John, author of Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference

“Punch by punch, pill by pill, the dread mounts in John Branch’s brilliantly reported account of Derek Boogaard, a modern-day gladiator who gave everything for a career in hockey, not least of all his hauntingly short and quietly kind life.” —Will Blythe, author of Why I Write

“At its core, John’s Branch’s brilliant book Boy on Ice is an indictment of how we treat our professional athletes.” —Jury Citation for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781443417044
  • ISBN 10: 1443417041
  • Imprint: HarperCollins Publishers
  • On Sale: 10/07/2014
  • Pages: 384
  • List Price: 32.99 CAD
  • BISAC1: SPORTS & RECREATION / Hockey

Boy On Ice by John Branch

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