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American Shaolin

Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China
Narrated by: George Newbern
Length: 10 hrs and 33 mins
5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)
Regular price: $24.47
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Publisher's Summary

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 90-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 had 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.

©2018 Matthew Polly (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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The book is a 5/5 - The reader is good but...

The book is excellent. Seriously, get this book, you'll love it.

... The reader is very good save for one very distracting exception. Within the span of a few sentences he will pronounce the same word two to four different ways. A persons name like Wang (pronounced at first with an "ay" sound) will a sentence later be pronounced differently (with an "ah" sound.) No one can expect a western reader who doesn't speak Chinese to have perfect pronunciation, both tonally and otherwise - and for the most part the reader does a good job. But with the constantly changed pronunciations of proper nouns, it becomes hard to keep track of key players in the story.