Throughout history there are people who appear that change the course of nearly everything they touch. The original point of influence may be in their sport or career of choice, but the ripples extend far from there, sometimes covering the entire globe. Muhammad Ali, Elvis, Julia Child; just a few of the people who excelled in their craft, but in the end were much bigger than just their skill, they had become historical figures. Bruce Lee was one of those people and this book, The Treasures of Bruce Lee, captures not only his story, but the feeling of seeing a revolutionary life come into fruition and get cut so terribly short.
Written by Paul Bowman and put together by Applause Books and Bruce Lee Enterprises, this new volume celebrates the legend of Bruce Lee with brand new artifacts from his studios, early demonstrations and even removable movie posters. It’s like a portable museum for true fans of the martial arts legend.
There is a remarkable attention to detail, which shouldn’t be surprising since Bowman has already written numerous books on the subject and is a martial artist himself. Lee’s daughter, Shannon, also lends her voice to a forward on the book, not only giving it her blessing, but also lending it credibility in a genre full of “unauthorized” histories. She celebrates the joy at seeing some of these old, seemingly lost, pieces of her father’s legacy brought back and reprinted in such fine detail. The book is a prize for longtime fans and those who are just beginning to find an interest.
One of the pieces I appreciated most was getting to read some of his own words, shown once more in his own handwriting, in letters to friends over the years. In one correspondence, he replies to someone who just helped induct him into the “Hall of Fame” for martial artists. Lee responds, “…such a plaque is to me like nothing.” He’s not being mean or glib about the honor, just trying to communicate that he was not in it for the glory.
He clearly understood his fame, but also felt trapped by it at times. He wanted to share his teaching with as many people far and wide as he could and continue to perfect it, continue to grow in the style which eventually came to be known as Jeet Kune Do. It is a glimpse into the mind of someone the world lost tragically, well before he could watch his dreams roll across the world like a tidal wave.
The construction and printing In the book are also exceptional and in whole remind me of another book I was given as a gift a couple years ago, The Stephen King Illustrated Companion. So anyone who loves this style of collection, that one is absolutely worth a look as well.