Review: Letters of the Dragon by Bruce Lee (Edited by John Little)

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

The taxing cost of making long distance phone calls to family and friends was a type of adversity that the famous martial arts icon Bruce Lee had to deal with because of his traveling in and out of the United States to countries like Hong Kong and Switzerland. So, he turned to the art of letter writing. Fifteen years’ worth of letter writing has culminated in Letters of the Dragon by Bruce Lee (Edited by John Little).

Here are letters written by Bruce Lee from 1958 to 1973. Linda Lee Cadwell, the widow of this legendary martial arts figure, sums this book up perfectly when she calls it a “collection of artful writings by a man dedicated to honest self-expression”. Its five part structure allows readers to start at the time when Bruce first went to America until what is believed to be the last letter he wrote before his passing in 1973.

When someone like Bruce Lee, a prominent martial arts practitioner and a movie star, resorts to letter writing and seems in some ways to make it an enjoyable habit, should it be so difficult for us, now, to sit down and write to someone that we haven’t heard from in a while? I can tell you that I feel like writing some letters at the moment. If you’re wondering why, I’ll tell you to read this book.

The author wrote and sent off letters for a variety of reasons. He would write to old friends to catch up and inform them of what was transpiring in his life. When a friend was in need of some sound advice, he would thoroughly explain whatever needed explaining. Simply put, the author makes letter writing seem like a thing every one of us should learn to do. I can’t exactly see that happening in this day and age.

The best way for me to describe the experience of reading this book is like being glued to the screen while watching one hell of a movie. The author’s letters proves that he was simply a man who valued the people that were closet to him. His almost passionate need to keep track of the happenings in the lives of his friends is especially clear by the way he tended to thank those that he received letters from.

As explained in this book’s preface, we see that the author sometimes gave the rules of grammar the boot in some of the letters. In one of several letters to Linda Lee Cadwell, the author wrote the word “whatnot” as “what not”. The following icky sentence was in another letter to Linda: “I can tell you one thing, thing is happening too damn fast here”. The grammar errors are only a handful, though.

After reading these letters, I have to say that it gave me a far better idea of who the author was as a person than a straightforward non-fiction biography would’ve. The fact that he was human just like everybody else was something that I could spot in the first couple of letters that I read. While he might not have stuck to the rules of correct English grammar, his clear enjoyment of letter writing is almost contagious.

Free paberback received from Tuttle Publishing.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Date Published:
September, 2015
Martial Arts

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