Bruce Lee: A Life

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“The first noteworthy treatment of its subject—and a definitive one at that...Fascinating narrative threads proliferate.” —The New York Times Book Review

The most authoritative biography—featuring dozens of rarely seen photographs—of film legend Bruce Lee, who made martial arts a global phenomenon, bridged the divide between Eastern and Western cultures, and smashed long-held stereotypes of Asians and Asian-Americans.

Forty-five years after Bruce Lee’s sudden death at age thirty-two, journalist and bestselling author Matthew Polly has written the definitive account of Lee’s life. It’s also one of the only accounts; incredibly, there has never been an authoritative biography of Lee. Following a decade of research that included conducting more than one hundred interviews with Lee’s family, friends, business associates, and even the actress in whose bed Lee died, Polly has constructed a complex, humane portrait of the icon.

Polly explores Lee’s early years as a child star in Hong Kong cinema; his actor father’s struggles with opium addiction and how that turned Bruce into a troublemaking teenager who was kicked out of high school and eventually sent to America to shape up; his beginnings as a martial arts teacher, eventually becoming personal instructor to movie stars like James Coburn and Steve McQueen; his struggles as an Asian-American actor in Hollywood and frustration seeing role after role he auditioned for go to a white actors in eye makeup; his eventual triumph as a leading man; his challenges juggling a sky-rocketing career with his duties as a father and husband; and his shocking end that to this day is still shrouded in mystery.

Polly breaks down the myths surrounding Bruce Lee and argues that, contrary to popular belief, he was an ambitious actor who was obsessed with the martial arts—not a kung-fu guru who just so happened to make a couple of movies. This is an honest, revealing look at an impressive yet imperfect man whose personal story was even more entertaining and inspiring than any fictional role he played onscreen.
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About the author

Matthew Polly is the national bestselling author of American Shaolin, Tapped Out, and Bruce Lee. A Princeton University graduate and Rhodes Scholar, he spent two years studying kung fu at the Shaolin Temple in Henan, China. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Esquire, Slate, Playboy, and The Nation. He is a fellow at Yale University and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jun 5, 2018
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Pages
656
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ISBN
9781501187643
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Biography & Autobiography / General
Performing Arts / Film / Genres / Action & Adventure
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Bill Bryson meets Bruce Lee in this raucously funny story of one scrawny American’s quest to become a kung fu master at China’s legendary Shaolin Temple.

Growing up a ninety-pound weakling tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, young Matthew Polly dreamed of one day journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China to become the toughest fighter in the world, like Caine in his favorite 1970s TV series, Kung Fu. While in college, Matthew decided the time had come to pursue this quixotic dream before it was too late. Much to the dismay of his parents, he dropped out of Princeton to spend two years training with the legendary sect of monks who invented kung fu and Zen Buddhism.

Expecting to find an isolated citadel populated by supernatural ascetics that he’d seen in countless badly dubbed chop-socky flicks, Matthew instead discovered a tacky tourist trap run by Communist party hacks. But the dedicated monks still trained in the rigorous age-old fighting forms—some even practicing the “iron kung fu” discipline, in which intensive training can make various body parts virtually indestructible (even the crotch). As Matthew grew in his knowledge of China and kung fu skill, he would come to represent the Temple in challenge matches and international competitions, and ultimately the monks would accept their new American initiate as close to one of their own as any Westerner had ever become.

Laced with humor and illuminated by cultural insight, American Shaolin is an unforgettable coming-of-age tale of one young man’s journey into the ancient art of kung fu—and a funny and poignant portrait of a rapidly changing China.

A behind-the-scenes look at the life of the most extraordinary martial artist of all time—Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon is a photographic catalog of all facets of this fascinating man, from the start of his career to his untimely and tragic death in 1973. This book reveals a quiet family man behind the charismatic public persona. It shows the real Bruce Lee—the man who was so much more than an international film and martial arts celebrity.

This brilliant photo essay—compiled and edited by Bruce Lee expert John Little with the assistance of Lee's widow, Linda Lee Cadwell—reveals never-before-published family photos, including rare photos of Bruce's childhood in Hong Kong. Tender moments with his children are caught on camera, and action shots from his martial arts films are shown.

With a preface by his daughter Shannon Lee and a foreword by wife Linda, the text is drawn directly from Bruce Lee's own diaries and journals. Based on the award-winning Warner Bros. documentary, Bruce Lee: In His Own Words, sections include:Chronology of the Life of Bruce LeeEarly Years—why he began studying gung fu (kung fu) and took up wing chun, his first starring role, and his return to the USHollywood—why he got the part in The Green Hornet, teaching Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Stirling Silliphant, filming Enter the Dragon, The Way of the Dragon, Fist of Fury and more, training and acting with Chuck Norris, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dean Martin and Sharon Tate, and the creation of Jeet Kune Do (JKD)Family—meeting Linda, having children, daily life This Bruce Lee Book is part of Tuttle Publishing's Bruce Lee Library which also features:Bruce Lee's Striking ThoughtsBruce Lee's The Tao of Gung FuBruce Lee Artist of LifeBruce Lee: Letters of the DragonBruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human BodyBruce Lee Jeet Kune Do
Here they are, available for the first time in one collection, Bruce Lee's conversations with the press from 1958 to 1973.

Words of the Dragon is an anthology of rare newspaper and magazine interviews with Bruce Lee, many not previously published in the United States, revealing new words and explanations of Bruce about himself, his art, and philosophy.

Interesting and insightful, Words of the Dragon provides the reader a means to understand the real Bruce Lee, offering us a unique keyhole through which to view the private life and personal struggles of the late martial arts superstar. These interviews provide us with Lee's own interpretations of life, the martial arts, international stardom, and his cross-cultural marriage during a time of racism.

John Little is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on Bruce Lee, his training methods, and philosophies. Little is the only person who has ever been authorized to review the entirety of Lee's personal notes, sketches, and reading annotations. He is currently the Associate Publisher of Bruce Lee magazine and the managing editor of Knowing Is Not Enough, the official newsletter of the Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus. Little's articles have appeared in every martial arts and health and fitness magazine in North America. He is the author of The Warrior Within:The Philosophies of Bruce Lee, and co-author of Power Factor Training, The Golfer's 2-Minute Workout, and Static Contraction Training For Bodybuilders.

This Bruce Lee Book is part of Tuttle Publishing's Bruce Lee Library which also features:Bruce Lee's Striking ThoughtsBruce Lee's The Tao of Gung FuBruce Lee Artist of LifeBruce Lee: Letters of the DragonBruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human BodyBruce Lee Jeet Kune Do
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