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Andre the Giant: A Legendary Life (WWE) Paperback – January 6, 2009

2.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Krugman is the cowriter -- with Matt and Jeff Hardy -- of the New York Times bestseller The Hardy Boyz: Exist 2 Inspire. Krugman has also worked with Amy Dumas -- better known as Lita -- on her autobiography, Lita: A Less Traveled R.O.A.D. -- The Reality of Amy Dumas. He has also written for a wide variety of national publications and online media outlets, including RollingStone.com. He is the coauthor of Generation Ecch! and author of Oasis: Supersonic Supernova. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

André's father, Boris Rousimoff, migrated to France from Bulgaria in 1934. A fellow farmworker -- who had himself emigrated from Poland -- introduced Boris to his sister, Marianne, and in 1938, the two married. A small, sturdy woman with the figure of a fire hydrant and wild frizzy hair, she quickly presented Boris with children, beginning with Antoine and Hélène.

The family struggled as World War II wreaked havoc on the European continent, but somehow, they managed to survive. André Rene was born on May 19, 1946, followed shortly thereafter by Mauricette and Jacques.

A hale and hearty man over six feet, Boris built his family a home in Molien, a bucolic farming village approximately forty miles outside Paris. It was just a small farm, but it was fertile and productive enough to feed the Rousimoffs.

Known as Dédé from his little sister Mauricette's mispronunciation of his name, André was a handsome boy, baby-faced and charming. But as he got older, he kept growing and growing, his jaw and forehead becoming distorted in appearance. Though it was clear that there was something unusual about the boy, his condition went undiagnosed by the country doctors.

André was sent to school in nearby Ussy-sur-Marne. Having grown up on the farm, with only his family for companionship, André loved going to school, especially the social aspect of being around people. Many years later, during production of The Princess Bride, André would tell stories of how the Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett used to pick him up when he would hitchhike to school.

Circumstances forced him to abandon his education at the age of eleven, at which time he joined his father and brother at work on the farm. As he entered his teens, André was well over six feet tall, with the physical appearance of a fully grown man. He was strong and athletic and, like all French boys, loved playing soccer. At the age of eighteen, André made the acquaintance of a local wrestling promoter who saw beaucoup francs in the oversize young man. He introduced André to the art of le catch, and the young athlete soon began wrestling around Paris and its environs. He adopted the ring name of "Geant Ferre" -- after a mythical French giant à la Paul Bunyan -- which soon became "Jean Ferre."

In 1966, André was befriended by Frank Valois, a Montreal-born wrestler and promoter. Valois became André's most trusted adviser and business manager, finding his charge work wrestling throughout Europe, including Germany and England. It was around the same time that André first met British wrestler and future World Wrestling Federation commentator Lord Alfred Hayes. Years later, Hayes would recall his first encounter with André and the friendship that blossomed between the two men in a witty and touching essay published in the official company publication.

August/September 1984
by Lord Alfred Hayes


I had made my wrestling headquarters in the comfy district of Place Blanche, which lies within the shadow of the hill of Montmartre. One day before departing for a wrestling engagement at a town near LeMans racecourse, the French wrestling promoter, Maurice Duran, phoned me and asked if I would pick up a young wrestler who would be waiting for me at the Porte-de-Versaille, one of the Gates of Paris. My response was of course, I would be delighted to. In those days as indeed now, I enjoyed impressing upon young rookies how to mind their manners and become decent people without swollen heads. Here was my chance to really give this young French wrestler an earful of my "puritanical moralizing."

With this pleasant thought in mind, I proceeded to the rendezvous where I would pick up this young lad. Imagine my surprise upon reaching my destination and discovering a raw-boned seventeen-year-old French youth who stood almost seven feet tall and grinned at me in the most disarming manner. He spoke no English, which may have been a blessing had I not spoken French. Upon discovering that I could speak French, he immediately began to lecture me! He would gesticulate with each sentence, almost causing a major disaster with practically every turn of the wheel. His booming laughter came from deep down in his stomach and filled my small European car with such decibels of noise, I really thought my eardrums would burst! It suddenly dawned on me this "boy" was not ordinary, either mentally or physically.

Eyeing him slyly, I inquired if he knew who his opponent would be that evening. "I know his name," he replied. "His name is Jacques Ducrez."

"But do you know anything about this man?" I persisted.

"No," he said, "I do not," and quite honestly, he did not seem to care.

"Jacques Ducrez," I said, "is probably the cruelest wrestler in the whole of France. He is a black-hearted man who knows no mercy and will coldly strike you down. He will probably take a mere kid like you and finish your wrestling career with one hold."

Naturally I expected such a young person to at least show some apprehension. However, André looked at me, laughed, and then with a wink of one of his bright eyes said, "You are amusing me, please continue."

From that moment on I had the feeling I was chauffeuring a young athlete who was definitely destined for fame, and whose mother country, France, was certainly not big enough to contain his irresistible spirit to say nothing of his huge dimensions.

Many people talk about the miracle of André the Giant, some few people, myself fortunate to be amongst them, have had the luck to be close to his development, and yet this miracle that is André definitely seems to have an almost fairy(tale)-like quality to me. I say almost because it is a positive fact that André the Giant does exist. Watching him the other evening destroy two men with a single blow, one knows his existence is indelibly printed into the annals of professional wrestling.

Born in Grenoble, his father a French mountaineer and his mother coming from a noble Bulgarian family, his childhood environment equipped him adequately for the strenuous life of the professional wrestler.... His reputation as a fair and just wrestler is without blemish. His massive size and strength have already made him legendary and here indeed is the perfect example of a "hero" who has become a legend in his own lifetime.

When André travels to countries where one might think he would go in trepidation, it is the other way around. When André is touring Japan, top wrestlers suddenly find time for vacationing or perhaps visiting Mama.

One might ask, is it possible that here in André the Giant is an invincible wrestler. An improbable task for anybody to overcome his advantage in weight, strength, size and skill. I would have to answer this is probably a correct assumption. However, Lady Luck has not always been the companion of our towering superman. It has always been difficult for André to obtain world championships, and one can understand the reason why.

Many shrewd critics of wrestling still expect this giant warrior to eventually realize that one horizon which until this moment has escaped him. For myself, I can now sit back in relief, comparative safety, and observe with much pleasure André's forays into the ranks of professional wrestling. Good luck to you André, may you achieve that happiness and pride that only a world championship can give its holder. You are truly a man admired by men. You are an example for every sportsperson to follow. I am proud to be considered your friend.

In 1969, André ventured off the European continent to wrestle in New Zealand under the name Monster Eiffel Tower. The following year saw his Japanese debut, wrestling for Isao Yoshihara's International Wrestling Enterprises (the country's number two promotion behind Japan Pro Wrestling Association). Billed as Monster Rousimoff, André wrestled as both a singles competitor as well as in a tag team with European wrestler Michael Nador. The partnership was instantly successful: on January 18, 1970, Monster Rousimoff & Michael Nador defeated Thunder Sugiyama & Great Kusatsu in Fukoka, Japan, to win IWE World Tag Team Championships.

While he was wrestling in Japan, a doctor informed André that his unusual size was the result of acromegaly, a rare hormonal disorder caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. The tumor spurs overproduction of growth hormones, leading to an altered facial appearance and enlargement of the hands and feet. If the tumor develops before bone growth is completed in adolescence, the result will be gigantism.

Unfortunately for André, the discovery of his acromegaly came too late to prevent many of its symptoms. Worse yet, André was advised that acromegaly sufferers were generally lucky to reach forty. He told no one about the diagnosis, and those friends closest to him believe that it was the knowledge of his shortened lifespan that drove André to indulge freely in his many appetites.

André was not the first wrestler to suffer from acromegaly. Maurice Tillet -- the French Angel -- was a star in the early days of professional wrestling. He developed acromegaly in his twenties, and as a result, his whole body was disfigured. Seeking a new identity to fit his chronic disfigurement, Tillet headed to America, where he was dubbed the "freak ogre of the ring."

So too... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Series: WWE
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: World Wrestling Entertainment (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416541128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416541127
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Bernier on January 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being a longtime WWF/WWE fan I own almost every official biography they have released to date. I just finished the Andre The Giant biography and I have to honestly say this is by far the WORST WWE biography I have ever read. The author obviously did not have even of a biography to fit in a decent sized book so he described many of Andre's matches in great detail, too much detail in my view. The author would spend multiple pages on each match with details of just about every move used in the match (with Andre there was not many he used). What was really unnecessary was including match details of matches Andre was not even wrestling in, way too many for my taste. As most people know Andre was not very active in his later years in the ring so many of the matches Andre was just observing and doing very little actual wrestling, the author spent way too much time talking about matches that Andre was not even in. In my opinion this book was a complete waste of time and money. I strongly recommend fans avoid this book...
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As Gorilla Monsoon would have said, "this is a travesty of justice." This is not a biography of Andre the Giant, it is a biography of his wrestling career (largely the WWF/E part of it). Anybody, and I mean anybody that has access to a video library of Andre's matches and interview segments could have "written" this book. It is nothing but more than someone transcribing the visual events and commentary of the high spot feuds of Andre during his WWE tenure, covering the likes of Big John Studd, Hulk Hogan, Jake 'the Snake' Roberts, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, and his tag team events with Ted DiBiase and Haku. To top that off, any interview segment regarding these feuds were also added pretty much verbatum. Truly this was a huge disappointment. If you took out all the videotape transcribing and only included the parts regarding Andre the person and not his career, the book would be a mere 25 pages long maybe. About the only redeeming quality of this book were the personal quotes from the likes of Ted DiBiase, Bobby Heenan, Stan Hansen, and referee/travelling companion Tim White and tof course Vince, Shane, and Stephanie McMahon.

If this had been a dvd biography, it would be great but in book form it is just simply terrible and does not truly pay tribute to Andre the Giant whereas very little of his personal life is covered except his declining health. As a dvd, it would get 5 stars, as a book, it's generous to give it 1 star. Skip it and wait for the sure to come dvd compilation.
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I agree with the prior reviews. This is not a biography, but a transcript of what would have been a hell of a DVD. All this guy does is describe (in way too much detail) all of Andre's matches and interviews from 1985 up. I'd rather see these, instead of having this dork tell me about them. Obviously Andre had very little of interest happen to him his first 15 years in the sport as he sums them up (poorly) in about 40 pages. All his territory days are summed up in a sentence or two. Must not have been very interesting... or the author was very lazy.
I dislike "WWE press" biographies because it seems like you get half the story. Wrestling history becomes very edited, and almost re-written so "Fact" is whatever Vince's view of a person or situation is. This book isn't even half, as there is very little actual content. A few paragraphs here and there of interviews of other legends.
If you've never seen or heard of Andre the Giant, this is a decent introduction. But if you're aware of Andre, post-Wrestlemania, there's absolutely nothing here you need to know.
Sadly this book is a big waste.
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With Andre being gone for over 2 decades, this will probably be the only biography done on his career by the WWE.

It is a shame that it had to be a book that was not particularly good at all.

We get a glimpse of Andre that pretty much all wrestling fans know - he liked a drink, he disliked some wrestlers, he was big, he was strong. There was nothing new here. The depth of research was quite low.

The biggest issue with the book is the reliance on very detailed descriptions of his matches, some matches that he was involved in and some of his interviews. Why these were here is a mystery as they distract from the book itself.

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I had such high hopes for this book about my childhood hero, Andre the Giant. But unfortunately they were not met with this Michael Krugman book. The story of Andre's life was not fully articulated in this 344 page book. Andre started his wrestling career in 1967 and from the beginning of his life till 1979 it is summed up in 50 pages. These are the years that Andre was originally discovered, gained fame comparable to Muhammad Ali and put together his technique but it was put together poorly. As a fan of Mr. Rouismoff's I began to notice him when WWE went national, in the 80's and therefore witnessed all of his matches from this era on the USA network and from PPV events. This was all relived in the book--word from word. I felt like I was reading the captioning from the TV. Mr. Krugman found all of the big matches from the 80's and simply put on the captioning and typed away...why? If this is what you were going to do, just put out a 3-disc dvd, which I would really, really enjoy. Again I had hopes of his childhood from family that had known Andre's family, I had hopes of his introduction to mass drinking, more of the stories of partying with Andre, the women, his daughter in Seattle, his days when he left to go to Japan, his final match and more on the personal side. Instead closed captioning of all of his big 80's matches...disappointed. Why 2 stars then, well if you never witnessed Andre, this is the best way to get to know him and the fact that WWE put something out about my hero well I will give you credit on that. The only hope I have is that WWE puts out a supplement 3 disc dvd capturing the video of these matches, to witness the matches that would truly be legendary.
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