Like Water: A Cultural History of Bruce Lee
Published by: NYU Press
Imprint: New York University Press
Sales Date: 2022-08-09
Published: August 2022
Imprint: New York University Press
Page Count: 336 Pages
Illustrations: 9 b/w illustrations
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.10
336 Pages, 6.00 x 9.10 x 1.20 in, 9 b/w illustrations
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Highlights Bruce Lee?s influence beyond martial arts and film
An Asian and Asian American icon of unimaginable stature and influence, Bruce Lee revolutionized the martial arts by combining influences drawn from around the world. Uncommonly determined, physically gifted, and artistically brilliant, Lee rose to fame as part of a wave of transpacific globalization that bridged the nearly seven thousand miles between Hong Kong and California. Like Water unpacks Lee?s global impact, linking his legendary status as a martial artist, actor, and director to his continual traversals across the newly interconnected Asia and America.
Daryl Joji Maeda?s multifaceted account of Bruce Lee?s legacy uniquely traces how movements and migrations across the Pacific Ocean structured the cultures Bruce Lee inherited, the milieu he occupied, the martial art he developed, the films he made, and the world he left behind. A unique blend of cultural history and biography, Like Water unearths the cultural strands that Lee intertwined in his rise to a new kind of global stardom. Moving from the gold rush in California and the British occupation of Hong Kong, to the Cold War and the deployment of American troops across Asia, Maeda builds depth and complexity to this larger-than-life figure. His cultural chronology of Bruce Lee reveals Lee to be both a product of his time and a harbinger of a more connected future.
Nearly half a century after his tragic death, Bruce Lee remains an inspiring symbol of innovation and determination, with an enduring legacy as the first Asian American global superstar.
"Maeda positions Lee?s career as a product of?and significant contributor to?long-evolving transnational exchanges across the Pacific, and he argues forcefully that his subject?s achievements in blending cultural traditions are worthy of celebration ... the book provides lucid analysis of Lee?s lasting significance." Kirkus Reviews
"Decades after his untimely death, Bruce Lee, like water, still flows across the globe as an inspiration to the marginalized, the colonized, the immigrant, the dispossessed, and the oppressed. Daryl Joji Maeda?s powerful new book places the martial arts megastar/philosopher and his multicultural circle in the critical context of transpacific studies. Maeda does a masterful job of giving us a different way of understanding Bruce Lee and his legacy by avoiding the ?classical mess? of pinning the mercurial Lee to Asia or America rather than allowing him to float across the vast Pacific." Gina Marchetti, author of Citing China: Politics, Postmodernism, and World Cinema
"Marvelous and momentous. Maeda?s knowledge of Bruce Lee is breathtakingly comprehensive and impressive and has completely expanded and transformed my understanding of Lee. Like Water is easily the most consequential and definitive book on Lee that has been published to date." Robert Ji Song Ku, co-editor of Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader
"Conceived as a multifaceted cultural history, Like Water tells the story of the making of Bruce Lee as a transpacific icon. Foregrounding the larger geopolitical and cross-cultural forces at work, Daryl Joji Maeda tracks Lee?s incessantly migratory footsteps from his on-the-road birth at a Chinese hospital in San Francisco to his mysterious death at his paramour?s pad in Hong Kong. As a cultural history, the book is rich and expansive, compiling a montage of big subjects such as Chinese immigration, Cantonese opera in America, and the history of Chinese cinema. As a biography, Like Water draws the contours of Lee?s life while highlighting flashpoints of his legend." Yunte Huang, University of California Santa Barbara
"Maeda argues that Lee?s films, which combined elements of Spaghetti Westerns, James Bond films, and Cantonese opera, were equally the result of the vision of one man, who also lived between worlds, and the cultural and economic exchange that took place in the 20th century following World War II ? Maeda?s point is that without cultural exchange there would have been no Bruce Lee. Maeda?s study of Lee reminds us that without cultural appropriation there would be no culture." Washington Examiner
"Maeda?s contribution is significant. The book is an easy and enjoyable read, even as it is also a major contribution our understanding of the biography, the context of the work, and the many culturally significant aspects of Bruce Lee, from his fight for fame to the nature of his contributions to film, popular philosophy and physical culture." American Literary History
"Maeda?s cultural history is compulsively readable. Like Water focuses heavily on Lee?s life, but it also treats Lee as a literal embodiment of the complex forces of imperialism, colonialism, and attitudes toward Asians in the United States during the mid-20th century. It provides a lot of background for readers who may not have that context, but it may leave some hungry for still more... General-interest readers looking for an accessible, well-researched account of Lee?s life will find Like Water a good fit, as will more serious readers." The Los Angeles Review of Books