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Publisher's Summary

The first authoritative 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 32, journalist and best-selling 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 100 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.

©2018 Matthew Polly (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"…an engrossing examination of the life of a martial arts movie star and his shocking, early death…In what is certainly the definitive biography of Lee, Polly wonderfully profiles the man who constructed a new, masculine Asian archetype and ushered kung fu into pop culture." (Publishers Weekly)

"Students of martial arts, film history, and the 1970s alike will find much to enjoy in Polly’s homage." (Kirkus Reviews)

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

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Ever Want to Meet Bruce Lee?

This is as close as we’ll ever get to meeting Bruce Lee. I’ve watched and read countless biographies on Bruce Lee and this is the only time I’ve ever come away feeling like I got to really “know” the man. This biography goes past the lengend and the gossip and show the man on his journey, warts and all.

This accounting of Bruce Lee’s life felt, real, sincere, and honest. Thanks Matthew Polly!

The narrator was no slouch either. His narration is like a great special effect, you didn’t know there was one. The biography was read simply, and I REALLY appreciated his pronunciation of Chinese words. Not try-hard, but not annoyingly English. The narrator didn’t make it about his performance, he simply performed it. Thanks Johnathan Ross!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic book about an amazing human

This review is for the audiobook version.

As someone who has been a Bruce Lee fan for his entire life, I was a little bit hesitant about buying this book. I was afraid it would just be a rehash of all of the other books written about him, many of which are just hearsay and myth. I am so happy I was wrong about this assumption.

This book presents Bruce Lee as a human being. It presents all that is good and all of his vices. Don't get this book expecting it to make him out to be a god-like figure, because he wasn't. He was a man, albeit a very self-aware and self realized one. And that is the reason I love this book. It made Bruce Lee human which is something I have been looking for for a long time and his biographies. It also showed what an amazing person he was, both as a martial artist and in general. I loved it and I love Bruce Lee even more after this book.

The audiobook version is outstanding. The reader is very expressive and presents the book in a way that is easily accessible and enjoyable. It is close to 20 hours long but I wish it was longer. That is not to say that there was not a ton of information contained in the book, but instead that I wish the book hadn't ended. I highly recommend it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The must have for the Bruce Lee fan!

I've been a devoted Bruce Lee fan for over 40 years and have read all of his writing and both the good and horrible books written about him and this is by far the best. Very in depth a paints a picture of a son, a father, a husband, and a warrior. Outstanding!

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Fascinating!!

Getting educated on just how impactful this man was o. the WORLD was a pleasant surprise. While delving into the darker side of BL, this book sheds light on all aspects of his life and presents the only plausible cause of his death that I can get behind. The book is a great listen and the voice talent doesn't take away from the story.

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The inspiring legend!

Awestruck - amazing person who never ceases to inspire. I had a choice of three books before reading/listening to this one, & l must say l made the best choice in selecting this title. The great thing after all this is the inspiration l draw, to be focused and accomplished in the things l am passionate about, like Bruce was to Kung Fu. May his legacy inspire multitudes more!

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Entertaining and insightful

A very well written and entertaining biography. I have read several books on Bruce Lee and was happy to find that the author was able to offer some new information that I had never read before and tell it in an entertaining way. I didn’t have a problem with the narration, but personally I just didn’t care for the narrator’s voice. Overall I highly recommend.

I would also highly recommend another book written by Matthew Polly titled American Shaolin. It’s one of my favorite books

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AMAZING

Soooooo great!!! Thank you, Matthew Polly. Thank you. This book is so inspiring and needed in upholding the legacy of Bruce Lee.

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Excellent Job

I did not know what to expect from this book as I had read so many on the life of Bruce Lee. I was a bit put off by the writer claiming that the true story had never been told. After all, Linda Lee had written a book about her husband. I decided to read this book anyway and the only thing I have to say is 👍🏾, Good Job!

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So Much Inside Info

I loved this well-written and thorough telling of this legend. Absolutely tons of inside info not found in the many documentaries.

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Great book

Enjoyed the book as an excellent account of such a young influential person who changed the martial arts world forever! Best biography of Bruce I have ever read and not just a fluff piece but based on facts and interviews of the people he interacted with throughout his life. Well done to the author and great narrative performance for this audio book.