2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of two monumental moments in martial arts history; they mark the 40th anniversary of the release of “Enter the Dragon”, as well as the passing of the iconic Bruce Lee. There will be plenty of new books and documentaries this year related to the legend, and one of them that just got released was “The Treasures of Bruce Lee”. Written by Dr. Paul Bowman, who gave me one of my all-time favorite interviews for the website about his work on the “I Am Bruce Lee” documentary and his book “Theorizing Bruce Lee”, with a forward by Bruce’s daughter, Shannon, this book tells the story of Bruce from his childhood, all the way through his last days. With so much Bruce Lee stuff already on the market, does this one separate itself from the herd? Absolutely.
Dr. Bowman weaves a complete tale of Bruce Lee, covering his time growing up in Hong Kong, coming to America and opening up his first school, meeting his eventual wife Linda, and making movies and shaping the martial arts film genre. Concise and detailed, the book itself is under 100 pages long, but within those pages are photos from Bruce’s personal life that have never been revealed, and will most likely never be seen in another book again. It is safe to say that the majority of the book is photographs, but that does not stop it from being a very detailed account of Bruce’s life.
What really makes this product stand apart from the others on the market is all of the bonus material that transforms this from just a book into your own personal museum. “The Treasures of Bruce Lee” comes with multiple inserts that include five huge posters from his movies, and fifteen removable pieces of never-before-seen documents from Bruce Lee and his family, such as replicas of hand-written letters, lobby cards, stickers, and other odds and ends. Two of my favorite pieces was a replica of one of Bruce’s notepads, complete with several pages of notes, and a Jun Fan Gung Fu attendance card that was made only for the students of Bruce’s original school. The attention to detail is insane, as these are not just one sided pieces of paper on a glossy photo stock, but are highly detailed two-sided and occasionally multiple-page memorabilia that you will not be able to get anywhere else.
The research done to make this book possible was undoubtedly meticulous, but the payoff is tremendous for people like me who are infatuated with Bruce Lee. There is no other book that would give you the story of Bruce, along with all of these unseen items from him. Calling it “The Treasures of Bruce Lee” is extremely appropriate, as opening this book is like unlocking a box in Bruce’s house and revealing a more human side to the man as opposed to the often fantasized image that many fans have. This scrapbook of Lee’s life is a piece of art that everyone can enjoy.
You can order “The Treasures of Bruce Lee” from Amazon.com for a little more than $26, which is a shockingly amazing price for such a great book. Even a serious Bruce Lee fan will doubt their own fandom until they get this book and glance at the removable inserts. I am considering buying a second book so I can have another one to put the posters up on my wall. Beyond those great documents that are exclusive to the book, Dr. Bowman’s passion for Lee unravels the story of Bruce Lee with new facts and stories, making it one of the best books on the subject. At first glance, it might look like a mere coffee table book, but it goes far beyond that and is the Bruce Lee experience that fans have desired for four decades.