Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart by Martha Hart

April 22, 2019

This is a book every wrestling fan should read once. It’s also a book few will bring themselves to read a second time.

This is not a traditional wrestling biography as it features virtually nothing about Owen Hart’s in-ring career, save to acknowledge the respect his abilities had earned within the industry. Instead it’s a very personal account by his widow Martha of their life together, the stresses of his being on the road, and the experience and aftermath of his tragic death in 1999 when he fell from the rafters of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City.

The book details the circumstances of Hart’s death and lays bare that, while most definitely an accident, it was most certainly avoidable. The very nature of his planned ring entrance, in which he would fall from a zip wire a few feet from the ring, fatally reduce the basic safety levels that should have been expected for such a descent.

In detailing the resulting legal battles and the turmoil it caused the extended Hart family, the book fully explores the process by which Owen Hart was fitted with a quick-release harness against the advice of experts in the field.

The standout section of the book is where Martha describes hearing the news of Hart’s death and her experience of shock and grief. It’s extremely hard to read, not because of the writing style (which is crisp but authentic thanks to an excellent ghostwriting effort by Eric Francis) but rather because the emotion is so raw and leads to uncomfortable empathy on the part of the reader.

Many of the better wrestling books are a pleasure to read and entertaining. Neither is the case here, yet it remains a book that anyone who thinks they know the Owen Hart story needs to investigate.

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