Bruce Lee: A Life

Bruce Lee: A Life

by Matthew Polly

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501187643
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 285,365
File size: 79 MB
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About the Author

Matthew Polly is the national bestselling author of American ShaolinTapped 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 PostEsquire, 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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Bruce Lee: A Life 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Sunshine1006 More than 1 year ago
Bruce Lee was a hero to many people of all cultures. He made his moves in the movies look effortless. He wanted to be known as an actor, not just someone who did "Kung Fu. He died at an early age due to cerebral edema. No one was sure how this came about. There were pictures of his family among others that I had never seen. There was gossip and innuendo about his personal life.. His wife Linda had no idea if he was unfaithful although it was alluded to. I found this to be an interesting story of a man who taught and befriended many movies stars despite cultural differences. I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review.
TimothyCalifornia More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Bruce Lee's fans will also like it, since it's more detailed and more intelligent than a lot of the books that have popped up since his 1973 death. But the book will also appeal to those who are unfamiliar with Lee, since writer Matthew Polly offers insights into the growing East-West connections (and conflicts) that occurred during Lee's lifetime and after. Polly makes the point that Lee had a huge effect on martial arts, Hollywood, the global film industry, and many other areas. The book is smart and always full of interesting details, about Lee and the world he lived in. I highly recommend it.
neechum 11 months ago
SUBSTANDARD BOOK – “Bruce Lee, A Life” by Matthew Polly contains a lot of errors, biased commentaries and ridiculous claims (Jewish ancestry, death by heatstroke, etc.). I do concur with some reviews that the occurrence of errors is as high as one per page. Also, I found it irritating and unbecoming that Mr. Polly included so many verbatim conversations (seems like every page), the book read more like a fiction than a biography. This is a perfect example of reputable publisher such as Simon & Schuster is capable of producing lousy books.
ody More than 1 year ago
I remember the craze about kung fu movies when I was a young teen and then hearing about Bruce Lee’s passing and I didn’t understand a lot about it. The remedy for that was reading this book about Bruce Lee’s life. It was so engrossing for me that I read it quite quickly, although it was fairly long. I found it really well researched and thorough. Author Matthew Polly spent 6 years on it interviewing everyone around Lee who would talk, as he felt a definitive biography was long overdue. It tells about the whole man, the actor, the martial artist, the husband and father, the businessman, the stressed guy who worried about ‘losing face’. There were so many facets to Bruce Lee, and this book was good at sharing many of those, which helped in a way to try to understand what he might have been like when he was alive. It creates an interest in wanting to see his movies after reading about him making them, especially his last one “Enter the Dragon”, that he was so consumed in the making of. He was very driven during that time, for sure, from the telling of it. The previous three movies he’d made were for Golden Harvest studio in Hong Kong, was “The Big Boss”, “Fists of Fury”, and “The Way of the Dragon”. I’d recommend this book for any fans of martial arts, Bruce Lee fans, biography fans, etc.
chinesecanadian More than 1 year ago
FULL OF ERRORS I can’t recommend this book for several reasons. I agreed with the reviews of Dublin-based Irish Times and Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. The former called it a “Door Stopper” while the latter called the book’s controversial claim of Lee’s death due to heatstroke bizarre. About 10% into the book, I had already found 21 factual errors and 16 contextual inaccuracies. I stopped counting after that. The “Door Stopper” quip refers to the book’s size (656 pages), which is a result of the author’s liberal way in material selection and his fairly loose standards in fact-checking, evident in the level of errors and inaccuracies. Too many sidetrack stories with questionable relevancy were included, and most narrative was artificially stretched with unimportant details. The book is also filled with quoted dialogues but provided no substantiation as to the truthfulness of the spoken words – they’re no better than just documented hearsay. This book is a good attempt to provide a comprehensive biography of Lee, but poorly executed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stars are for the first review dont know about the book yet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book sucks