This isn’t a book that gets a lot of talk, but it’s certainly one of the better wrestler biographies out there. Although a lawyer by trade, Erb was formerly a journalist and approached the project from that perspective rather than primarily as a wrestling fan.
While there’s no shortage of wrestling material here, it’s far more of an individual life story than the territorial history of the also-excellent Pain and Passion by Heath McCoy.
And what a life story that is. While most fans know the tales of Hart’s sprawling family in their Hart house and the infamous dungeon, many reading this will be shocked to learn of his impoverished childhood, at one stage living with his family in a tent during winters of -20C or below. There’s also plenty about his wrestling career before turning to promoting.
Erb pulls off an impressive balancing act of including Hart’s recollections though first-hand quotes from interviewing him, but still keeping the book as an objective, independent account.
It’s important to note that the book is predominately about Stu’s life and only contains brief mention of his many offspring’s time in wrestling, particularly outside of Stampede. That makes for a more focused book, but could disappoint some expecting it to be more a family biography.
If you have any interest in the territorial era, or simply in one of the more distinctive personalities to be involved in the wrestling business, this is a strong recommendation.