Saturday, September 17, 2016

4 out of 5 Ninja Stars for "Letters of the Dragon," Edited by John Little

In the interests of disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.

Title: Letters of the Dragon
Editor: John Little
Publisher: Tuttle
Format: Softcover
Pages: 184
Price: $12.95 $9.07 (US)

Bruce Lee is always going to be a fascination for most martial artists.  He embodied a change that was coming to martial arts in the US, and eventually the world.  Most people know the movie man, and see the action hero.  Some of those who delve deeper know he was a philosophy major in college.  He loved delving into Chinese philosophy and culture.  Some people who go even farther into his biography start to get a better idea of who Bruce Lee was as a man.  When the cameras were off, what was he like?  How did he develop his philosophy of life and marital arts?  This book gives you glimpse into the head of the master, when he wasn't trying to impress people, just being himself.

    This book is a collection of letters written by Bruce Lee from the time just before he left for America, until his untimely death.  These include letters to his wife, his friends and fellow martial artists, and to his business partners.  The letter also include some of his drawings, both for martial arts, and for some pieces of equipment that he was having made.


    The first thing that jumps out at me after reading this book is his relaxation.  Whenever I've seen him in movies, or in interviews, I always got the feeling that he was "on."  Which I'm not blaming him for.  He was an action/martial arts star.  People expected a certain aspect of you, and Bruce was glad to show you that aspect.  These letters seem to give you a more relaxed view of him.  There is still a very steady, strong flow intention and ambition to the writings, especially as his movie career starts to build up.  but because of the media, and the intended audience, there is a more personalized feel to the writings.  


    I don't think this should be the first, or even possibly the second book you read on Bruce Lee.  If you're a martial artist, Tao of Jeet Kun Do should be first.  In some ways, that's starting with the finished product first, but I think that's the most applicable.  The second book you should read be a more rounded biography.  To get the gist of what's happened to him.  This book then will further add in some details, and fill in the human part of Bruce Lee, rather than just the action star.  


    I enjoyed this book, and would easily recommend it to any of my fellow martial artists, or anyone who's looking for another piece of the mystery that was Bruce Lee.  I easily give it four out of five ninja stars.  It was a good read, and I read it really quickly, because I couldn't put it down.  I enjoyed the personal glimpse behind the curtain to see more of the man behind the martial arts star.  However, as I stated before, if you're just starting out your research into the life and times of "Saint Bruce, the patron Saint of Martial Arts" then this probably shouldn't be the first book you add to your collection.  But if you're looking to add a unique aspect to your knowledge of Bruce Lee, this is definitely a nice piece to add.

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