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Boy on Ice

The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard

John Branch (Author)

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

The tragic death of hockey star Derek Boogaard at twenty-eight was front-page news across the country in 2011 and helped shatter the silence about violence and concussions in professional sports. Now, in a gripping work of narrative nonfiction, acclaimed reporter John Branch tells the shocking story of Boogaard's life and heartbreaking death.  

Boy on Ice is the richly told story of a mountain of a man who made it to the absolute pinnacle of his sport. Widely regarded as the toughest man in the NHL, Boogaard was a gentle man off the ice but a merciless fighter on it. With great narrative drive, Branch recounts Boogaard's unlikely journey from lumbering kid playing pond-hockey on the prairies of Saskatchewan, so big his skates would routinely break beneath his feet; to his teenaged junior hockey days, when one brutal outburst of violence brought Boogaard to the attention of professional scouts; to his days and nights as a star enforcer with the Minnesota Wild and the storied New York Rangers, capable of delivering career-ending punches and intimidating entire teams. But, as Branch reveals, behind the scenes Boogaard's injuries and concussions were mounting and his mental state was deteriorating, culminating in his early death from an overdose of alcohol and painkillers.

Based on months of investigation and hundreds of interviews with Boogaard's family, friends, teammates, and coaches, Boy on Ice is a brilliant work for fans of Michael Lewis's The Blind Side or Buzz Bissinger's Friday Night Lights. This is a book that raises deep and disturbing questions about the systemic brutality of contact sports—from peewees to professionals—and the damage that reaches far beyond the game.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • October 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35191-0
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 384 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverBoy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard

    Hardcover

Endorsements & Reviews

“A haunting tale.” — Ed Sherman, Chicago Tribune

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

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

“Meticulously reported and beautifully written.” — Bryan Cronan, 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, Sportscaster

“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. The rise and fall of Derek Boogaard—quintessential NHL goon—is unlike any sports biography you will ever read.” — Steve Fainaru, best-selling coauthor of League of Denial

“A beautifully written and haunting journey into the jagged psychology of the modern athlete. It compels fans to examine their own roles in the spectacle and reminds us in often brutal terms that for our sports heroes, the real struggles take place far beyond the ice or the field of play.” — Warren St. John, best-selling author of Outcasts United

Best Book of the Year. Branch captures the sorrow and anguish of a young athlete’s career collapsing…and asks piercing questions about violence in sports.” — Publishers Weekly

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