Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart
by Martha Hart with Eric Francis
Description:I sincerely applaud Martha Hart for this touching and well written tribute to her late husband, Owen Hart. That she and Owen were each other's true love is clear; that his family was Owen's only obsession makes the tragedy of his death even greater.
Broken Harts chronicles Owen's career in professional wrestling, his life growing up in the weird and wonderful Hart household, and his subsequent life as husband and father. That Martha always felt slightly on the periphery of the large Hart clan is clear, however she remains as objective as possible when detailing Owen's upbringing and her own introduction into the family. Thus, there are some very interesting insights into one of the most prominent families of professional wrestling.
Martha goes into great detail in covering the events leading up to, and including Owen's death itself. The facts are laid out and juxtaposed with her own emotions but without being overladen with either. The reader is given a unique insight into the possible causes of the tragedy and events directly following it. Martha received staunch support from Owen's brother Bret Hart, who never left her side from the moment of Owen's death until the resulting lawsuit against the (then) WWF was settled.
To lose her husband, whom she loved so much and who adored her, and to then have to fight the might of the WWF in order to seek justice for Owen, without the backing of her husband's family (with a few notable exceptions) is testament to her devotion to his memory. Martha Hart is clearly a very brave woman, dedicated to protecting the memory of her husband for the sake of her children and for the sake of their lives together. I have nothing but respect and admiration for her, and nothing but praise for this book, which must have been very difficult to write. Yet it is clearly and thoughtfully written, touching and honest. There are lessons anyone would take away from it.
Reviewed by Kirsty Quested on February 1 2005.
Eric Anderson wrote in with his review:
I loved Owen as much as the next guy, and I too cried the day after his death. He was truly an underrated wrestler, and will forever go down in history as being a great performer. However, his wife goes into the book with little or no knowledge of the wrestling business. Her personal accounts of Owen are touching, but she is too quick to point the finger. You'd think that it was Vince's plot to end Owen's life tragically. It's easy to portray the boss as the bad guy Martha, but couldn't you just write a book celebrating his life, not stewing over his death? 6/10.
Mason Raige (www.masonraige.com ) wrote in with his review:
While my reviews are not written from a fan perspective but a wrestler's perspective, I am a longtime wrestling fan, so I am hoping to give the reader a unique view.
Perhaps one of wrestling's most versatile and evolving performers, Owen Hart is often cited as many a fan's favorite star. Although Hart got his entrance in the business solely by his last name and family connections, his charisma, athleticism, and mind for the business allowed him to etch out his own identity and become one of wrestling's top draws in a time when wrestling was on a downslide. For those who don't know his tragic tale, Hart, who was wrestling as a masked crusader known as the Blue Blazer and was the victim of a poorly executed ring-entrance stunt, died after plunging 80 feet into the ring in front of a sold-out crowd in Kansas City, in a pay-per-view gravely titled Over the Edge. Broken Harts, written by Hart's widow, Martha, covers Owen's life, his personality, his wrestling career, and his role as husband, father, son, and brother. Mrs. Hart also covers the lawsuit that stemmed from her husband's accidental death and paints a not-so-glamorous picture of the WWE, Vince McMahon, and professional wrestling. Definitely an interesting and provocative read, Broken Harts gives insight from someone who wasn't directly involved with professional wrestling but whose life revolved around it.
This book is a great tribute to a man who died much too young by a woman who loved him greatly. Although many see the wrestling world as fake and silly, this book gives a strong dose of reality that is, at times, hard to swallow. The book starts out focusing on the last night that Martha and Owen spent together. Owen, who had become greatly disengaged with the direction wrestling was going (DX, The Godfather, and Val Venis...The "Attitude" Era), wanted nothing more but to retire. Owen longed for a 'normal' life and desired to be a husband and a father to his wife and two children (Athena and Oje) respectively. Fed up with the travel and being a part of a show he would not allow his own children to watch, Owen simply wanted out. However, coming from wrestling's first family and growing up in the business, Owen was unable to break the clutches of the business and had no choice but to honor his contract and his obligations. On the night before his trip to Kansas City, he and his wife has a deep discussion about life and their relationship. Owen told Martha that if something should ever happen to him, he'd want her to remarry and provide a father for his children. Quite an eerie conversation to have, especially since Owen was only a day away from the rest of his life.
Martha does an excellent job of capturing the essence of their relationship. She describes how they met, how they began dating, and how they fell in love and got married. She paints Owen as the perfect man, a guy who has never done anything wrong in his life. He was apparently the perfect husband, father, son, and brother. She and he were the ideal couple as well, and they produced two flawless children and were living a storybook life. While this part of the book is a bit difficult to believe, it becomes clear here that the author is a grieving widow and is only remembering the positives, which is understandable. She does, however, give the impression that she and Owen believed that they were too good for the wrestling business, which is probably something Owen Hart might not like his fans to know. However, she knew him better than anyone. It does come across as a bit hypocritical that she blasts the profession that provided her family with everything that they have. I'm sure she didn't hate the business when she was cashing his checks over the years. Her views are interesting, though, as she is not pulling any punches or being careful as to not offend anyone. Some of her remarks are scathing, especially the ones about her in-laws and their children. You'll have to read this to believe it!
Martha then goes on to cover Owen's death and what exactly happens. Without getting too much into detail (as I'm sure many of you may want to read the book for yourselves), the controversy surrounding Owen's death are jaw-dropping. The way Martha recounts the events of the fall makes it appears that his death was senseless and a result of a very careless WWE. The book includes photos of the set-up and the aftermath of the fall. This is where the book becomes very emotional. Martha's writing here really gives the reader insight into what happens and why it happened, something WWE never did cover.
She also gives some interesting insight into the Hart family, as well as her opinions of Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart, Mick Foley, Steve Austin, Jeff Jarrett, Chris Jericho, and many other WWE wrestlers. The only negative about Martha's descriptions of the wrestling business is that they appear to be through the eyes a woman whose heart and family were destroyed by professional wrestling. While her views are certainly understandable, it does tend to slant the story a bit.
Attacked most in the book and painted as an evil and heartless coward is Vince McMahon. Putting most of the blame on the shoulders of WWE's president, Martha lets the reader know exactly how she feels. She recounts McMahon's phone call to her after Owen fell, his actions before and during the funeral, and his handling of Owen's death on WWE television. This is very intriguing reading, to say the least. Martha's coverage of the lawsuit and its happenings also gives the reader some fascinating perspective into WWE.
On the opposite end, someone who is made out to be a godsend to Martha during her ordeal is the Hitman, Bret Hart. Bret stood by Martha throughout the entire nightmare and, unlike some of his siblings, was not motivated by Vince's money or power. Some of the Hart children (Owen's siblings) actually tried to stand in the way of Martha's lawsuit by buddying up to Vince for a job. Although Martha says that Bret and Vince have since reconciled, Martha claims she will never forgive McMahon and still holds him highly responsible for Owen's demise.
In its 277 pages, the book is provocative and gripping. The author's story is one of sadness and heartbreak, but the conclusion is motivating and uplifting. Martha's views of WWE and professional wrestling offer a unique and valid opinion of how a family can be greatly affected by life outside of the ring. If you're a die-hard wrestling fan, this book needs to be read. If you're a casual fan and want insight into the life of a pro wrestler and his family, it is also a good choice. If you're a wrestler and one day hope to wrestle for Vince McMahon's WWE, get off of your computer and get to the bookstore now!