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Hockey: A People’s History

by Michael McKinley

Year in and year out, the overwhelming majority of sports books published in Canada are hockey books. But how do writers and those who produce their books for the mass market avoid the “just another hockey book” trap?

Vancouver author Michael McKinley (whom hockey-book fans will know as the author of the popular 2002 work The Magnificent One: The Mario Lemieux Story) has come up with one convincing answer to that question: develop a companion book to a popular television series on Canada’s favourite game.

Canadians are already familiar with the “people’s history” approach from CBC’s earlier Canada: A People’s History series, and McKinley has taken a similar approach with our nation’s favourite sport. Because of the sheer volume of photos, the fact-filled text, flawless layout, and sheer mass of the book, it’s sure to be a mainstay on coffee tables for years to come.

McKinley, who appears on camera in the series, has waded through the enormous mass of archival information available to researchers to provide a “people’s” approach in his narrative, focusing on both the big-picture events in the game’s history and those quirky factoids that hockey buffs love. Still, as good as McKinley’s writing is in this one, most fans won’t be able to take their eyes off the pictures, many of which will give readers a first look at famous figures from hockey lore they may have only ever heard about. (The photo of the Preston Rivulettes, a women’s hockey dynasty from the 1930s, posing on top of the team bus in winter coats is almost worth the price of the book alone.)

The Hockey: A People’s History TV series drew much attention when it began airing across Canada in September. For fans who want to recapture that magic, this volume will do the trick nicely.