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The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling Paperback – Illustrated, November 4, 2014
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—The Wall Street Journal
"Acid, engaging prose...Shoemaker ensures that the most unsavory aspects of wrestling have their due and that the spectacle's victims won't be forgotten."
—Los Angeles Times
"Wonderfully written…A thoughtful chronicle. . . . Whether you're a wrestling fan or just a fan of good writing and stories, The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling delivers."
—The Memphis Flyer
"The most erudite book that I have ever read about...the world of professional wrestling."
—Good Times Magazine
"Adventurous readers, indifferent to wrestling though they may be, will find this a fun look inside an alternate universe. Fans, of course, will be whacking each other over the head with fake metal folding chairs to get their mitts on a copy."
"Shoemaker is at his best when telling comic anecdotes about the colorful characters of the sport. . . . [a] lively, informed survey.”
"Few people write about anything as well as David Shoemaker writes about pro wrestling. And if you're the type who dismisses it as a 'fake' sport, just know that this awesome book contains real characters, real betrayals, and very, very real death. That's great reading."
—Drew Magary, author of Someone Could Get Hurt and The Postmortal
"If you believe that pro wrestling is not a sport, then you've never read David Shoemaker. No one else so ably demonstrates the real-life drama and competition that takes place between the lines of the scripted action. No one else shows how true this fake world can become for the fans, promoters, and yes, pro wrestlers, who practice the trade. If you are a fan of sports and entertainment, or the murky world in between, you will devour this riveting book. And if you believe pro wrestling can't produce top-shelf sports writing, then, yes, you've never read David Shoemaker. He's the CM Punk of the genre, aka 'The Best in the World'."
—Dave Zirin, author of Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down
"This is the undoubtedly the best book about professional wrestling I've ever read. And I hate to admit this, but I've read many books about professional wrestling."
—Mark Titus, author of Don't Put Me In, Coach
About the Author
"One of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I—or you— have ever read." —Augusten Burroughs Learn more
- Publisher : Avery; Illustrated edition (November 4, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1592408818
- ISBN-13 : 978-1592408818
- Item Weight : 13.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 1.02 x 7.97 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #126,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Well written and researched, this is the book to buy if you want to know how all this started (goes all the way back to the early 1900s) and read about some incredible people involved over the years.
Yes. Wrestling is scripted...yet it's not fake! A match must be set and the finish must also be set (unless a wrestler looses his temper and goes off script) in order to have the high entertainment we have gotten over the years. Most of the winners are selected by the response of us, the fans. Responses like how much we hate the grappler or love him (or her). Tell the truth, a well hated bad guy wrestler is a lot of fun to watch!
In the early days, when wrestling was not scripted, a match could take a good part of the day and would be boring as hell! Two guys on the floor with headlocks for hours on end. The drama, comedy and plot development of the story lines are very well done for most of the wrestling saga.
However, what goes on between the start and finish, is at least 90% the real deal. As one astute wrestler has said recently, YOU CAN'T FAKE GRAVITY!
These guys do put their bodies on the line every night sometimes. Boxers do it a couple of times a year.
This the telling of the wrestling saga through the early deaths of some of the most famous wrestlers really does work.
This book may make a lot of new wrestling fans. I just recently got hooked on it when a friend got me to watch a Monday Night Raw a few months back. This book helps me not to feel like a bum for loving this line of entertainment. I watched it as a kid with my brother back in the late '50s and at 67 I am a fan again. It feels good!!
Read this book and watch THE WRESTLER with Mickey Roarke and you too will be in on it and see what it is a legitimate form of entertainment.
And that's where the depressing part comes in. Shoemaker, who used to write "Dead Wrestler of the Week" for Deadspin, intersperses the book with sections on wrestlers who are no longer with us. Individually, the sections serve as nice tributes to the wrestlers. Collectively, it's very scary to see just how many wrestlers have died young, especially when you get into later chapters about guys like Mike Awesome and Owen Hart. Using these profiles to tell the story of pro wrestling is a very unique angle that works very well, but it does leave you wondering why in the world anyone would get into this business.
My one complaint is more of a technical issue: Shoemaker has a ton of footnotes in this book (he obviously takes after his new boss, Bill Simmons). This wouldn't be so bad if the footnotes just showed up on the bottom of the screen but, unfortunately, you have to click down to the footnote and go to a different page to read it, then go back to the page you were on. This was a painful process that was repeated dozens of times in each chapter. Maybe that issue has been fixed on the newer Kindles (I have a first generation, although it happened on my iPad 3 as well), but it definitely made reading this book more labor intensive than it should have been!
Other than that, I would recommend this book to anyone that grew up with pro wrestling and would like to learn more about its history and the characters that made it what it is today.
Top reviews from other countries
The connecting tissue about the history of wrestling and how its ridiculous traditions, parlance and everything else came to be is equally fantastic, it's worth pointing out, way more than mere filler between tales of excess, glory and eventual downfall. I genuinely learned things I did not know about pro wrestling, and I pride myself on knowing a lot about pro wrestling. My parents aren't so proud of that, but there you go.
A thoroughly enjoyable, illuminating and damn interesting collection of articles masquerading as a book, 'Life, Death...' is a perfect read for any wrestling fan - as well as a great read for even those who have no interest in the art of greased up large men in pants pretending to hit each other. Lovely stuff.