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John Branch is a San Francisco-based sports reporter for The New York Times and the author of "The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West," about a family of bronc-riding rodeo champions trying to hold on to their ranchland outside Utah's Zion National Park amid the pressures of the West's changing landscape. A reporter without a beat, Branch writes about a little bit of everything, from the Olympics (many times) to dog-grooming contests (once), and occassionally for different sections of the paper. He believes the quest is to write stories that surprise readers, usually nibbling in the shadows of the sports world. Branch received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for "Snow Fall," a story about a deadly avalanche in Washington, and was a finalist for the prize the year before for a series about hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, the subject of his first book, "Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard," released in 2014 and the winner of the ESPN/PEN Award for Literary Sports Writing. Raised in Golden, Colorado, a one-time manager for Costco, Branch received a master's degree in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1996. He worked for The Gazette in Colorado Springs for several years, then became the sports columnist at the Fresno Bee before being hired by The New York Times in 2005.