While I was growing up in the eighties and early nineties Bret Hart was a real hero to me. I loved his style and his physique and even at that young age I think I appreciated his character as a hard worker who always gave his best and earned every win he got. However, due to my interest in wrestling gradually waning over the years it wasn't until recently that I saw the Hitman documentary "Wrestling With Shadows".
This was a real eye opener to me on the whole 'Montreal Screwjob' scenario that I had only really heard of in passing before, and as a result when I learned that Bret's open and honest autobiography was about to be released I ordered it straight away, and I must say that this book is fascinating.
Early on the book seems like an extremely honest but somewhat by-the-numbers wrestling autobiography, in which Bret describes starting out with his brothers and later Jim Neidhart, Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith, and he is very open about the drugs and sex and real violence that followed them around throughout their early tours.
The antics described in much of the first half of the book will shock and quite possibly appall some readers, and certainly shattered a few of my childhood illusions, but Bret still comes across as a good guy trying to do his best in a world full of temptations (and I believe him). The real beauty of the chronicling of Bret's fledging career though comes in the foreshadowing of world famous events down the line, such as early encounters with Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels, and Bret's lovingly written memories of his late brother Owen, all of which make sure that you can't help but keep reading.
The take on the infamous screwjob is even more enlightening than the documentary previously mentioned, and gives an extremely interesting insight into all the figures involved. As well as this we are given fascinating behind-the-scenes glimspes into the day to day personalities of some of the most famous men in wrestling history, and to wrestling enthusiasts of around my age the inside info on superstars like Mick Foley, Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and The Undertaker is priceless.
The back cover of the book makes a big thing about the betrayals by Vince, Shawn, Bret's own family and more, but I think its really worth mentioning the tales of heartwarming comradeship that are told as well, which really moved me at times.
There are very deep insights into the lives of some of the wrestlers around Bret as well, so fans of Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith and many others should really give it a read too, not to mention Shawn Michaels fans, who might learn something interesting about their idol!
Of course this is all only Bret's side of the story, so readers are free to draw their own conclusions...
In all I can heartily recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in wrestling as it is very well paced, emotively written, and a deeply fascinating insight into a strange and often brutal business. It didn't release me from its hold until I'd read it from cover to cover!