Bruce Lee: A Life - by Matthew PollyIf you’re a fan of Martial Arts movies, there’s a good chance you’ve caught the Bruce Lee bug at some point in your life.

The charisma, the philosophy, the incredible speed and physical prowess that goes hand in hand with deep wisdom and advice on self-actualisation has made Bruce Lee an icon for so many people, including myself.  This deep admiration has also brought with it the people who don’t know what the big deal is and think he’s “not really all that great”.

Opinions aside, Bruce Lee is the most iconic martial artist of the 20th century and a solid, factual biography of his life is hard to find.

Many have watched ‘Dragon the Bruce Lee Story’ only to realize that it was heavily romanticised to sell movie tickets, along with pretty much all film attempts since (with exception to maybe ‘Bruce Lee; My Brother’).  But the book market is almost as tough, while plenty of instructional martial arts and fitness books can be found, a decent biography of Lee isn’t so easy to find.

But this book, ‘Bruce Lee – a life’ has solved that problem!

So… it’s a Bruce Lee biography?

Indeed it is, however this biography really is next level and a must-read for fans of Bruce Lee.

The author, Matthew Polly was obsessive about this book.  He read, watched and listened to every shred of Bruce Lee material he could get his hands on. He interviewed every living person he could find who knew Bruce, fact-checked, and wrote incredibly meticulous notes that resulted in a 600 page book that is the opposite of spread-thin – it is packed with detailed information. All of this inforamtion is backed in the 100 or so pages of notes and bibliography at the end of the book.

Oh, and Polly is a huge Bruce Lee nut himself. So all the ingredients are there for a good book.

It goes back in time beyond Bruce’s birth to his family quite briefly, before covering the years of his life in an interesting fashion, exploring matters after his death with the same dedicated detail. But in between the “before and after” I found myself addicted to each page and even missed reading about Bruce after his death was addressed in the book.

My experience reading the ‘A Life’

This book doesn’t ease on in when you start reading it.

If you’re a fan touched by Bruce Lee’s influence, then the emotional introduction to this book hits you in the soft spot by straight away covering his death, his funeral and the incredibly difficult time experienced by Lee’s wife, Linda, and his children, Brandon and Shannon.

But this introduction made me really want to sink my teeth into this book so I found myself glued to each page from here on in.  I felt like I met his family, learned a little about their quirks and even Bruce’s first days as they were addressed in the book. What happens from then and throughout the rest of the book is what appears to be a seamless transfer from eye-witness (interview) recollection of people who knew Bruce, telling his story through their experienced eyes.

There are even some surprising moments from Bruce’s early days in the USA, including a seemingly near-miss event when a rage-filled argument had one of Bruce’s friend’s gripping his pistol, finger on the trigger and ready to fire in fear for his life had Bruce decided to attack him in anger.  This kind of thing really brings a sense of vulerability to Bruce for the reader while illustrating one of the main strengths of the book – the little-untold encounters and details we fans have most likely never heard before.

Why Bruce Lee fans will love the this book

Well, most Lee fans love reading about him but learning something new about our icon and hero is a special kind of drug to some. This book is packed with these little, almost unheard, details throughout Bruce’s life.

To set the scene, it’s like each part of the story is written with immersion in mind.  Polly describes the environment and atmosphere of each scene while getting specific, sentence by sentence recollection of many conversations between Bruce and some of his friends.  The book often describes Lee’s body language, such as Bruce shaking his fist in the air at someone after an argument.

There is one thing I won’t spoil you on that I found incredibly interesting

Bruce’s death has always been a hot topic, but in this book they take a modern day, scientific look at the man and the situation, right down to his symptoms and give a new theory behind his untimely death.  This theory, at least to me, seems pretty solid and backed by science.  I loved reading into the insights of not only the author but modern day doctors interviewed about it.


I can’t say enough, I’m blown away by how good this book is. I’m not a novel reading kind of guy, but I loved this book.  It satisfied my thirst for more knowledge and information and left me motivated to train harder as I read about Bruce’s incredible achievements and his modern martial life.

If you’re a fan of Bruce Lee – you need this book.

It’s packed with new info, well written, shares some very interesting insights and I’m certain you’ll discover at least two hands full of new information about the man.  If you get the chance, check it out! You can grab this book on Amazon if you want to read it yourself.

Thanks for reading!  If you’ve read this book, please let me know your thoughts below, I’d love to hear them 🙂

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