Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead by Brian Boyle, Bill Katovsky |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead

Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead

4.7 21
by Brian Boyle

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On the way home from swim practice, eighteen-year-old athlete Brian Boyle’s future changed in an instant when a dump truck plowed into his Camaro. He was airlifted to a shock-trauma hospital. He had lost sixty percent of his blood, his heart had moved across his chest, and his organs and pelvis were pulverized. He was placed in a medically-induced coma. When


On the way home from swim practice, eighteen-year-old athlete Brian Boyle’s future changed in an instant when a dump truck plowed into his Camaro. He was airlifted to a shock-trauma hospital. He had lost sixty percent of his blood, his heart had moved across his chest, and his organs and pelvis were pulverized. He was placed in a medically-induced coma. When Brian finally emerged from the coma two months later, he had no memory of the accident. He could see and hear, but not move or talk. Unable to communicate to his doctors, nurses, or frantic parents, he heard words like “vegetable” and “nursing home.” If he lived, doctors predicted he might not be able to walk again, and certainly not swim. Then, miraculously, Brian clawed his way back to the living. First blinking his eyelids, then squeezing a hand, then smiling, he gradually emerged from his locked-in state. The former swimmer and bodybuilder had lost one hundred pounds.

Iron Heart is the first-person account of his ordeal and his miraculous comeback. With enormous fortitude he learned to walk, then run, and eventually, to swim. With his dream of competing in the Ironman Triathlon spurring him on, Brian defied all odds, and three and a half years after his accident, crossed the finish line in Kona, Hawaii. Brian’s inspiring journey from coma to Kona is brought to life in his acclaimed memoir.

Editorial Reviews

Mary Frances Wilkens - Booklist
“A moving, remarkable story of the power of the mind and the body.”
USA Today
“It's not what people accumulate in material things that makes a nation great. Greatness comes from the good that free people do for others. On the long road back, Boyle vowed that he would give back.
Men's Health
“A zombie, a permanent nursing-home resident, a man bound to a bed. At least, that may have been Brian Boyle's fate had he accepted the prognosis of his doctors.
ESPN The Magazine
“At times, Brian’s tale of survival sounds more improbable than possible.
USA Triathlon Life Magazine
“Riveting....There is no better story than Brian Boyle’s.”

Product Details

Skyhorse Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
900L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Brian Boyle suffered a near fatal car accident when he was eighteen. A former swimmer and bodybuilder, he had become a human skeleton but became determined to compete in the Hawaii Ironman. In October of 2007, he realized his goal and crossed the finish line in Kona. NBC television covered him during the triathlon. In 2008, Men’s Health magazine named Boyle one of its twenty heroes. He’s currently a student at St. Mary’s College in Maryland.

Bill Katovsky, founder of Tri-Athlete Magazine, has completed the Hawaii Ironman twice and is coauthor of Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq, which won Harvard’s Goldsmith Book Prize; and editor of 1,001 Pearls of Runners' Wisdom: Advice and Inspiration for the Open Road, as well as co-founder of the Natural Running Center.

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Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This review is from a true, autobiography called, Iron Heart by Brian Boyle which is about an athlete that almost loses his opportunity to live. The story takes place in the year 2004, when Brian Boyle, eighteen years of age, was on his way home from swim practice heading to his parent’s home in Maryland. At one particular intersection a dump truck driving very fast crashed into his sports car, totaling the car and putting Brian’s life in jeopardy. It all happened in a split second and his life changed forever from that day on. His courage and family support got him through this heart felt ordeal. He describes his journey back to life and three years later crosses the finish line at the Kona Ironman in Hawaii. It is amazing how he takes the readers through his entire experience. Brian suffered a lot of internal injuries and lost 60 percent of the blood in his body. He was air lifted by helicopter to a nearby trauma unit. The doctors had to jump start his heart eight times during his surgery. The doctors put him in a chemical-induced coma to help lessen his pain for two months. He was such an amazing athlete as a swimmer and a bodybuilder it was hard to visualize him being like this. His parents sat by his bedside every day and wondered what his condition was going to be like and if he was going to stay alive. He was unable to speak, blink or signal to anyone but he was able to hear the nurses, doctors and his parents around him. He had no memory of the accident and the doctor’s referred to his condition as the “lock-down” state. At this point in the book he describes the period of time of being in the coma and the reader feels as if it is them experiencing this first hand. It is so detailed and intriguing to read about every moment that he went through as he fought to recover. It was about a month and a half when he started to regain consciousness knowing what his surroundings were and that he wasn’t crazy. He expresses in his words that the doctors did not know if he would ever talk, walk, sit up, be mentally okay, or ever function again on his own. They were predicting that he would be a vegetable. This book really hit a nerve in me that made me think how important life is and that in just a split second with no control your life can change. It made me feel really sad because he was such an athlete, and seemed to have everything going for him. His body and his looks were changed in a split second. I was amazed by his courage and his bravery. I thought it was amazing all of the thoughts that he had in his head as all of the others were around him. That must be such a weird feeling and very helpless. I liked the way that the book was written because I did not want to put it down and I highly recommend reading it. I liked the fact that the details were being stated by him in first person and you knew exactly what he was thinking. It gave a real sense of what it would be like, even though it was scary and sad it was interesting! If you like reading about athletes and like reading about overcoming obstacles in life this is the book for you. It compares to the life story of Lance Armstrong and Brian Song, the football player that struggled to survive. All great athletes that were dealt an unfortunate twist in life! MG
tjoffe More than 1 year ago
We all had our bad days. But this kid had a day that we couldnt wish upon our worst enemy. I cried and was happy many times reading this book, it was truly a inspiring story, by any means necessary! i will make it. This is a book to give to anybody that says,.,, no i cant.. Yes you can.. ask Brian
metfan More than 1 year ago
Swimmer/bodybuilder/triathlete Brian Boyle tells the story of his comeback from a near-fatal car crash in this powerful,uplifting memoir. He writes with passion and honesty about his long road back.Yes,the book is sad at many points,but Brian does not ask for the reader's sympathy. Instead,he inspires as he finds the strength and determinataion to save himself.He comes across as very intelligent and articulate.Well-written and illustrated,men,sports fans,and anyone who just likes a good story will love this.One of the best books of the year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MinTwinsNY More than 1 year ago
Rating:   4 of 5 stars (very good) Review: Brian Boyle was a high school athlete who competed on the school swimming and track teams.  He was an accomplished swimmer – accomplished enough to earn a scholarship to a local college.  He also dreamed of one day competing in a triathlon.  Those dreams seemed to have died off on July 6, 2007 when he was severely injured in an automobile accident. There is no need to list all of the injuries suffered here, as Brian does that during this account of his story.  He tells of those believing he has no chance for survival, but through his will to live, unlimited parental support and the care and guidance of many medical professionals, he will not only survive, but be able to walk again and carry out daily functions. The story of his recovery took a larger portion of the book than I had anticipated, as the title might suggest.  The synopsis talks about his determination to compete in a triathlon – and not just any triathlon – it is the Kona Ironman triathlon, one of the toughest courses.   After Brian has regained enough strength to do some jogging and gets back in the pool, he decides to train for this.  A production crew from NBC follows him and his training for first a half-triathlon in Michigan before the Kona Ironman.  The short amount of time he had for this seems incredible, but being able to finish these races is a testament to his determination and is an inspiring story for all of us. What I liked best about the book is that it takes the reader into the mind of an athlete. This is evident even while Brian is in the hospital, as he talks at times about his scholastic swimming and field events like the discus and shot put. Then, during not only his training for the triathlon, but also during his recovery, physical therapy and even bodybuilding (he did that before training for the triathlon), Brian talks about what he is thinking while in this phase. He has his doubts, his highs and lows, and many adventures along the way.  These are interspersed throughout the passages, making the reader keenly aware of what he is thinking about as well as what he is physically doing in order to make this dream a reality. This book was a good choice to listen to as well as the narrator did a very good job of reflecting the feelings behind Brian’s thoughts as well.  I felt these came out better on audio than they would have if I read the printed version.  It is a well-written memoir that people will enjoy if they like inspirational stories.  Pace of the book:   For the most part, Brian’s story moved along at a good pace.  Not being a triathlete, the sections when he listed what exercises were in his daily training regiment, I admit to skimming over these by fast forwarding to the next section.    Do I recommend?   For an inspirational story or for a story where a seemingly impossible goal can be achieved, this book delivers on both of those accounts. However, if the reader wants to learn what goes on in the mind of an athlete, this book does well for that as well. Book Format Read: Audio book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truely love this book it inspires those to fight their way to living.... #livelikeyouweredying If u love true stories this book is for YOU!!!!!!!!
Shirli Cohen More than 1 year ago
This is a truly amazing book that i would definitely reccomend. The inspiring true story about hiw this man bounced back from a devastating experience almost brought tears to my eyes. Wonderful book, amazing story.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing to read. It gave me inspriation to try harder and push myself to do the best that I can. It broke my heart to hear that a boy that young had gone through things that not even most full grown men have gone through. His parents must have been on the verge of crying when they saw their boy in the ICU. They must also be very thankful and proud that he made it all the way through. Again truely inspirational.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is an inspiration and teaches one to never give up even in the bad times, when things seem like they can't get any worst. Great story and best of luck in the future Brian!
Rachel_Gearhart_Hughes More than 1 year ago
This book was so hard to put down! Brian describes his story in such a way that you can almost feel the confusion and desolation that he felt lying in the hospital bed, the struggle and determination he experienced during rehabilitation, and even the joy and triumph as he is able to regain the feeling of "life" once again in a new, more enlightened way!
AshleyHalsey More than 1 year ago
There is no better story of a miraculous comeback than Brian Boyle's. There is more to it than was revealed by the spotlight NBC trained on him during the 2007 Ironman in Kona, more than the ESPN feature and more than he told Ellen DeGeneres last year. In "Iron Heart" the story unfolds through Boyle's own eyes. These are the things that Boyle did not know when his world came into blurred focus one day and he found himself in an intensive care unit bed. He did not remember driving toward home after a summer swim practice. He had no recollection of the massive dump truck that broadsided his Camaro, crushing it from the driver side like a tin can. No memory of being cut from the car or flown to the trauma center. And, pinned to the bed without the ability to move, speak or acknowledge that he was conscious, he had no way to find out. "I'm alone in a white room and looking straight up at the ceiling. Bright lights shine all around me. My heart is beating fast. I try to raise my arms, then legs, but I can't move them. My head won't budge either. I can't blink or wiggle my fingers." And then he realizes a priest is beside him, giving last rites. Had he not been an 18-year-old state champion swimmer and body builder when the truck struck, Boyle would have died in the wreckage. In the aftermath, his ability to beat the odds could put every bookie out of business. Would brain function recover? Yes. Would he walk again? Yes. Would he swim again? Yes. Run? Yes. Bike? Yes. Realize his dream of doing an Ironman? Yes. The word "miracle" is overused these days, but when the full scope Boyle's dance with death is played out, the genuine miracle of his trip to Kona is underscored.
Hugh06 More than 1 year ago
As a family member reading this book is reliving some very difficult times. Finishing the book (one sitting) is an absolute joy! The actual writing is terrific, the flow smooth and it is a captivating read. The real story isn't about Brian eventually running at Kona but rather about Brian, with tremendous support from family and friends and many unknowns, first....deciding to live...then to return....then to excel. He displays the attributes we all include when describing our Heros. All of which is told through eyes many of us will never have the chance to see through again. The story grabs you in the first chapter and makes you feel a part of it all the way to the end...actually only the book ends. Brian's story continues as he targets helping others meet their own challenges that seem too much to bear. As I have already given the book to someone who is now in need of inspriation I can vouch for that. Iron Heart has special meaning but perhaps this should be called "All Heart"....Brian finished Kona (and will do that again but faster) not because of physical training but because he decided to. This book will teach everyone the power of passion, determination and the value of family and friends.
vickiseets More than 1 year ago
Iron-Heart is a well written book by an amazing person. Brian Boyle is an inspiring and dedicated person who has proven that he can do anything he wants. I feel its an honor to have read his story. This is an amazing book, inspiring everyone who reads it. Congrats to Brian for his accomplishments!!!
Catherine17 More than 1 year ago
Brian Boyle's true story of how he battled the odds and overcame a life threatening car accident to become an Ironman Triathlete brings a touching story of survival. With great emotion, Brian Boyle's book will show how his courage and determination took him on a journey from almost dead to extreme triumph. He is a truly inspirational young man and he will teach you, that no matter what your circumstances are, don't ever give up!!!! This book is definitely a "must read" for all!!!!
matthew516 More than 1 year ago
There are 3 reasons why this book should be read by anyone wanting to be inspired or motivated: First, it is incredibly well written; second, the story is nothing short of a miracle; and third, the the central person in the story (the author) is one of those rare individuals that leads you to believe in the phenominal power of the human spirit. This is not a story of a car accident and the recovery. It is an exploration into the mind of an incredible athlete who draws the reader into experiencing everything the he experienced. The reader feels what is like to come out of a coma and see the blinking of an eye or the slighest smile as huge achievements in communication. And the reader also feels the pain and exhiliration of completeing the swimming, biking and running of an Iron Man Triathlon. The book centers on the person, the struggle and the success rather than on the details of a tragedy. Miraculous healing, everpresent parental support and intense athletic drive seem to be the formula that led Brian Boyle to not only recover from this horrific accident but to defy medical science and go from a 2 month coma the a 14 hour IronMan triathlon in under 2 1/2 years. Read the book, share it with your friends, give it to someone needing to overcome struggles in their own lives.
60 More than 1 year ago
haven't read it yet