Download American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch; An Odyssey in the New China Audiobook

American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch; An Odyssey in the New China Audiobook, by Matthew Polly Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Matthew Polly Narrator: George Newbern Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2018 ISBN: 9781982545512
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Bill Bryson meets Bruce Lee in this raucously funny story of one scrawny American’s quest to become a kung fu master at China’s legendary Shaolin Temple.

Growing up a ninety-pound weakling tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, young Matthew Polly dreamed of one day journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China to become the toughest fighter in the world, like Caine in his favorite 1970s TV series, Kung Fu. While in college, Matthew decided the time had come to pursue this quixotic dream before it was too late. Much to the dismay of his parents, he dropped out of Princeton to spend two years training with the legendary sect of monks who invented kung fu and Zen Buddhism.

Expecting to find an isolated citadel populated by supernatural ascetics that he had seen in countless badly dubbed chop-socky flicks, Matthew instead discovered a tacky tourist trap run by Communist party hacks. But the dedicated monks still trained in the rigorous age-old fighting forms—some even practicing the “iron kung fu” discipline, in which intensive training can make various body parts virtually indestructible—even the crotch. As Matthew grew in his knowledge of China and kung fu skill, he would come to represent the temple in challenge matches and international competitions, and ultimately the monks would accept their new American initiate as close to one of their own as any Westerner had ever become.

Laced with humor and illuminated by cultural insight, American Shaolin is an unforgettable coming-of-age tale of one young man’s journey into the ancient art of kung fu—and a funny and poignant portrait of a rapidly changing China.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It is first rate. Polly’s book tells more about what’s going on in China and has more insights into the real China than anything in recent years. It is a wonderful true-life story with profound, behind-the-headlines observations about Chinese life. A tip of the Stetson to Matthew Polly.”

    Dan Rather, journalist, television anchor, and #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “It takes a special kind of person to leave the comforts of Princeton University and move to rural China to smash his forearms against tree trunks. Meet Matthew Polly.”

    New York Post

  • “An original and insightful book.”

    Boston Globe

  • “[A] memoir of the author’s quest for personal growth and wisdom by way of a trip to the birthplace of Zen and kung fu…His adventure in a Cultural Exchange Mutual Benefit exercise proved that he definitely wasn’t in Kansas anymore. A nicely developed narrative.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “In this smoothly written memoir, 98-pound weakling Polly makes the age-old decision to turn his nerdy self into a fighting machine…As much a student of Chinese culture as he is a martial artist, Polly derives a great deal of humor from the misunderstandings that follow a six-foot-three laowai (white foreigner) in a China taking its first awkward steps into capitalism after Tiananmen Square. Polly has a good eye for characters and…as a chronicler of human absurdity he makes all the right moves.”

    Publishers Weekly

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About the Author

Jonathan Todd Ross is a writer and an Earphones and Audie Award–winning voice actor. He has lent his voice to numerous anime television shows, including Yu-Gi-Oh! and Sonic X.

About the Narrator

George Newbern is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and a television and film actor best known for his roles as Brian MacKenzie in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II, as well as Danny in Friends. As a voice actor, he is notable for his role as Superman on the Cartoon Newtork series Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. He has guest starred on many television series, including Scandal, The Mentalist, Private Practice, CSI: Miami, and Numb3rs. He holds a BA in theater arts from Northwestern University.