Bruce Lee: A Life

Bruce Lee: A Life

by Matthew Polly


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The “definitive” (The New York Times) biography 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501187629
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 536,212
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Prologue: tale of two funerals 1

Act I Little Dragon

1 Sick man of asia 11

2 Boomtown 29

3 Ip man 49

4 Banished 63

Act II Gold Mountain

5 Native son 83

6 Husky 107

7 Sunny side of the bay 123

8 Face-off in oakland 145

9 Hollywood calling 163

10 Citizen kato 179

11 Jeet kune do 197

12 Sifu to the stars 217

13 Bit player 241

14 The silent flute 259

15 The way of longstreet 277

Act III The Returned

16 The last mogul 291

17 The big boss 307

18 Fist of fury 329

19 Concord 351

20 Spaghetti eastern 363

21 Fame and its discontents 387

22 Blood & steel 403

23 Knockin' on heaven's door 423

24 The last day of bruce lee 439

25 The inquest 455

Epilogue: the legend 477

Afterword 495

Lee family tree 501

Bruce lee filmography 503

Notes 505

Bibliography 603

Index 617

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