Sidecountry : Tales of Death and Life from the Back Roads of Sports
by Branch, John







Introductionxi
PART I CLIMBING and FALLING
1 Snow Fall
3(53)
2 The Dawn Wall
56(28)
3 Lost Brother
84(13)
PART II WINNING and LOSING
4 On League Night, a 300 Game Lives
97(4)
5 Perfection in the Horseshoe Pit
101(5)
6 Where Drivers and Danger Meet
106(6)
7 Enduring Traditions
112(9)
8 Where Creativity Wags Its Tail
121(4)
9 A Last Hurrah for Hollywood Park
125(12)
10 The Lady Jaguars
137(66)
PART III HIDING and SEEKING
11 Hunting Something That Can Hunt You Back
203(9)
12 The Most Perilous Prize
212(13)
13 The Ultimate Pursuit
225(15)
14 "You're Either the Hunter or the Hunted"
240(8)
15 Deliverance from 27,000 Feet
248(43)
PART IV DYING and LIVING
16 Seeing the World Beyond the Court
291(17)
17 A Football Coach, a Tornado and a Murder
308(14)
18 They Heard the Helicopter Go Down. Then They Prayed
322(8)
19 Children of the Cube
330(10)
20 The Girl in the No. 8 Jersey
340(5)
Acknowledgments345(2)
Credits347


"Breathtaking tales of climbers and hunters, runners and racers, winners and losers by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. New York Times reporter John Branch's riveting, humane features on ordinary people doing extraordinary things at the edges of the sporting world have won nearly every major journalism prize. Sidecountry gathers the best of Branch's work for the first time, including classic pieces like "Snow Fall," about skiers caught in an avalanche in Washington State, and "Dawn Wall," about rock climbers trying to scale Yosemite's famed El Capitan. In other articles, Branch introduces people whose dedication and decency transcend their sporting lives, including a revered football coach rebuilding his tornado-devastated town in Iowa and a girls' basketball team in Tennessee who play on, despite never winning a game. The book culminates with his moving personal pieces, including "The Girl in the No. 8 Jersey," about a mother killed in the Las Vegas shooting whose daughter happens to play on Branch's daughter's soccer team"-





Triumphs and tragedies beyond the realm of organized sports. New York Times sports reporter Branch has selected 20 articles from more than 2,000 pieces featuring people whose passions drive them to take on intense, quirky, sometimes risky challenges. The title essay, awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2013, focuses on skiers caught in an avalanche on the wild slopes known as "side country"-"just outside the controlled parts of a ski area"-a phrase that aptly describes other terrains that Branch surveys. A palpable sense of peril and terror infuses many pieces: about climbers scaling the sleek surface of El Capitan's Dawn Wall, a dayslong feat that requires sleeping in hanging cots attached to bolts on the mountain; competitors in the terrifying motor sport of figure-eight car racing; alligator hunters in Alabama; divers for abalone confronting surf, riptides, swells, and threatening weather off the coast of northern California; and, not least, Sherpas retrieving a body from Mount Everest. Other pieces reveal uncommon dedication: a coach rebuilding a football field after a tornado; cross-country runners among the Hopi; big-game hunters whose ultimate pursuit is the killing of one wild sheep, an effort that involves weeks-sometimes year after year-of trekking and stalking as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars required for a permit, money that funds wildlife preservation. The most absurd event Branch covered surely must be Intergroom, a three-day trade show for the grooming of dogs and cats into such entertaining personages as the Mad Hatter or Lady Gaga. Among the most moving were one of his daughter's soccer games, in which a girl whose mother was slain by the Las Vegas shooter in 2017 scored a winning goal; and a profile of the Lady Jaguars, a girls' basketball team operated by the Carroll County Juvenile Court (Tennessee) to give structure and focus to the players' lives. Spirited tales from a sympathetic observer. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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