Against All Odds Paperback – Sep 1 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In this autobiography, Norris and Abraham catalogue in a mostly chronological fashion the major events of Norris's Horatio Alger–like life. After a tumultuous and impoverished childhood marred by an alcoholic father, Norris turned his life around by joining the military and learning a martial art, tang soo do, while stationed in Korea. Having achieved a black belt, he returned to the United States and built a career as a karate instructor, winning six world championships. Norris counted many celebrities among his students, including Steve McQueen, who, along with Bruce Lee, encouraged Norris to pursue a film and television career. Even though Norris and Abraham employ a bland style of reportage, often bereft of smooth transitions and replete with empty phrases such as "I've always had a special place in my heart for children," the facts of Norris's life make this book compelling. Not only has he succeeded in martial arts and acting, but he has a long, eclectic list of additional achievements and experiences, such as breaking a world record in boat racing and being a close friend of the Bush family. While this book is being promoted as a Christian autobiography, Norris did not fully embrace a Christian lifestyle until the mid-1990s. Despite its limited spiritual content, this memoir will please those who admire Norris's achievements and conservative activism.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Fans of Chuck Norris may see him as an action hero in the John Wayne mold, but his autobiography presents a different image of the "Walker, Texas Ranger" star. Norris describes himself as a shy youth who finally blossomed while studying martial arts as a soldier in South Korea. His self-deprecating humor shows through anecdotes about karate defeats, white-knuckled speaking engagements, and his failure to become a Los Angeles policeman, which led to his fame as a karate champion. His life philosophies reveal relentless optimism, usually tempered with pragmatism. Norris's son, Michael, reads with an appropriately upbeat tone, actually sounding a little awkward in places, echoing his father's early shyness. J.A.S. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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However, I ended up reading his other two books first. They augmented this book and gave me a more comprehensive perspective on Mr. Norris's life journey. "The Secret Power Within" is a 1996 self-help book advocating a Zen-based approach to living. It contains several anecdotes from Mr. Norris's life illustrating the benefits of the Zen philosophy. It's somewhat similar to Joe Hyams's classic book "Zen and the Martial Arts." The second book is Mr. Norris's prior autobiography "The Secret of Inner Strength," written in 1988 with Joe Hyams. The philosophical focus of "The Secret of Inner Strength" is more cognitive, based on achieving goals using positive thinking and visualization. Each chapter ends with a couple of bullet-point principles for the reader's personal application. In light of this newest book, I found it intriguing that a relationship with God was not a major theme in either of Mr. Norris's previous works.
My curiosity stoked, I dove into "Against All Odds" to see how Mr. Norris got to Christ via martial arts, Zen, and positive thinking. It's mostly a retelling of "The Secret of Inner Strength," with some reworking and 16 years worth of additional information. I found it interesting to compare and contrast the two autobiographical books. He has recast some events from the first book with a Christian perspective, and also expands on other parts in light of the passage of time. For example, Mr. Norris reveals that his first marriage was more problematic than portrayed in "The Secret of Inner Strength." He admits to having an affair that produced a daughter, and eventually he and Dianne divorced. Subsequently, Mr. Norris remarried and started another family, got involved in politics, and embarked on a successful business venture with the Total Gym home workout machine. But most importantly to him, Mr. Norris reaffirmed his relationship with Jesus Christ and became a committed Christian. In contrast to his earlier books, he now credits God for his achievements.
Other reviewers have given Mr. Norris a bad time about his moral failures, especially with his profession of Christianity. He's also an unabashedly conservative Bush supporter, so Democrats might find this book tough to swallow. But he's refreshingly honest about his shortcomings. Mr. Norris owes up to his failures with Dianne, and seems to have made peace with his loved ones. He has some commendable actions to his credit, such as involvement with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and his own KICKSTART program to build character in kids using the martial arts. Perhaps there's more "dirt" waiting to be uncovered. But I'm not willing to cast the first stone, and overall his story is an inspiring one. Mr. Norris discovered Christ at the end of a long and winding road, and I found that to be encouraging.
If you buy "Against All Odds," I recommend checking out the other books mentioned above to get the "big picture" of Mr. Norris's life. Some Christians may struggle with the Zen and visualization stuff, but there are applicable insights that can deepen our walk with Christ.
His story chronicles his life and shows how he dealt with the things that have faced him and his family. Like all of us, he has failed at times. Like all of us, he wishes that he had done somethings differently.
Chucks faith in Christ is evident throughout the book. Yet he doesn't hammer us with it. Many of the projects that were started through Chuck's desire to help people are a direct result of his faith in Christ.
"Against All Odds: My Story," by Chuck Norris is a very engaging book that you will enjoy and find hard to put it down.
The last Bio was written better from an entertainment point of view- mostly because Joe Hyamms is a great writer, but this book is a little less self congratulory. Here Chuck admits his affair on his first wife in the 60's that produced a child, his divorce with Dianne, and his "living in sin" before marrying his current wife. He admits his falleness as a fallen man, but also his re-newed faith in Christ in his journey to a more fulfilled life.
The martial arts fan still learns much about his early martial arts training in Tang Soo Do while stationed in South Korea as a Security Policeman (of which I was also for 13 years, his early struggels in operating a dogo and tournament competition to enterng the film world and the Vietnam war and his family.
The writing is a little light at times, but he hit his target audience just right. For those who are looking for a more in-depth look at his martial arts film career, you may be disappointed and I agree that since much of his life is ceneter around his celebrity, he could have added another chapter discussing his films more in-depth (of wehich his other book did and therefore, he may not felt a need to do so). He talks about friends Bruce Lee and Bob Wall, his sons Mike and Eric, his new children, being a father husband and friend. An enjoyable read.
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