Review of 'Pugilist From Shandong', by author Thomas Haase
Imagine an existence where defending yourself in life and death mortal combat was as necessary and commonplace as breathing. For those of us in the First World this is no longer a reality, but in different times and places this competition for survival was a daily certainty. "Pugilist From Shandong", from author Thomas Haase, is a fantastic tale of just such a competition for survival by Lee Kwan Shan.
China at the turn of the 20th century was a truly dangerous time and utterly unfathomable by a modern reader. While many of the specifics of Lee Kwan Shan's life have succumb to the annals of lost history, Haase has painstakingly woven a story that keeps true to the social, political, and economic milieu of those times, while preserving as accurately as possible the scant remaining oral legends surrounding Lee Kwan Shan.
This is the first in an upcoming series of historical fiction books devoted to the legends in the history of Kung Fu. Haase has created for us a story that is both raw and unabashed in candor. And while sparking the action hero in all of us, the book subtly instills a deep gratitude for the safety of the times in which we now live! The mark of a great book is the depth to which it captures an audience. Having completed this book in one sitting, I can honestly attest to having been captured. High praise must be given to "Pugilist From Shandong" in this success!
For those interested in martial arts, the struggles of a common man, or simply a passion for action, this book would be much enjoyed!
“Pugilist From Shandong” by Thomas J. Haase is a well written, easy to read and highly descriptive historical account of a Kung Fu Master and his life in China during the late 1800’s and into the mid 1900’s. Mr Haase goes into great detail to paint a picture that makes this foreign culture and the art of Kung Fu understandable to us westerners. It is easy to keep turning pages. However, do not expect a yearly chronology of events. This book reminded me of the book about our Native American Indian history, culture and famous leaders, particularly the great Ogala Lakota (Sioux) war chief Crazy Horse. Like that of Crazy Horse, Master Lee’s story has many gaps because there is no written history of their lives and neither one bragged of the adventures that occurred when they were alone. The author is left to search out individuals who have information of eye witness accounts of the deeds performed. Thus, Mr. Haase’s book is a written form of the oral history passed down from Kung Fu master to their students. I personally know very little about Kung Fu but found this book very interesting and offering an understandable glimpse into the art of Kung Fu and the life of a person devoted to its teachings.
Co-author of “History of Conservative Laws In Wisconsin”
Comments: When I was a kid I grew up watching Shaw Brothers Kung Fu movies and enjoyed it! I love the different styles and fight scenes each martial art character used. I was mesmerize by it and during that time in my life it was entertaining but I always wanted to mimic their techniques. It wasn't until I read the book "Pugilist From Shandong" by Thomas Haase that I got a better understanding of the philosophy, culture, code of martial arts and the way they practice. The book has all the elements of one man's journey in life - love, action, drama, humor, honor, and trying to find one's place in a society of tumultuous times. I enjoyed reading the book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read. Thank you for opening my mind and enlightening me on the history of traditional Chinese marital arts.
In Thomas J. Haase’s book “Pugilist from Shandong”, we learn about the story of its protagonist Lee Kwan Shan (Yu Tong) and all the trials and tribulations he endured in his eventful life.
Written in an accessible style that draws you in, we are taken on an epic journey that often challenges our imagination to fathom hardships and situations that our comfortably modern living makes seem a distant, if even possible, existence.
The writing style is personal and the narrative moves along at a constant pace. Details to scenery, weapons and techniques, etc. abound. No matter if the reader has no, some, or deep knowledge of the martial arts there is material for all levels. An added bonus is the “look” into the mind of a master and Shifu in both training practices and application of techniques, a revealing of secrets if you will.
“Pugilist from Shandong” is an ongoing roller-coaster ride of emotions, hopes and disappointments (for our protagonist), and inspiration. With further books in the works I look forward to many more adventures.
Ismael Rivera La Luz, M.A.