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West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life Hardcover – October 19, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Anyone who follows basketball knows that Jerry West was a supreme athlete and a brilliant general manager. What I did not know until reading this powerful book was just how complex he is. West by West is a rounded, honest and moving exploration not just of West's life under the arena spotlights, but his passages through his darkest hours. With remarkable clarity and courage, West explores his flaws and ghosts, his glory on the court and his struggles off. Paralyzed and haunted by his childhood, this was a superstar who, at the top of his game, could not escape the feeling that he belonged at the bottom. Few would have the courage to look so deeply into the mirror, but in this exceptional book, West has done so."―Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life

"His silhouette image has long been the NBA's logo-a fitting symbol for a revered, enigmatic, and deeply private sports icon. But in this book, with unflinching candor and in remarkable detail, Jerry West emerges proudly and boldly from the shadows of his own life."―James S. Hirsch, author of Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend

"Apart from being an unquestionably successful, uncommonly admired human being, Jerry West...is a man traveling with a lot of demons. Pick up a copy of this brutally candid account of his life and you will understand him quite a bit better."―Mike Downey, Los Angeles Times

"West by West [goes] past the point where the cheers fade and sports books end to pose a question that rarely comes up: What is it all worth?"―Mark Heisler, New York Times

"I have just read Jerry West's memoir, West by West and it's a great read. This is a very insightful book about one the greatest basketball players and minds that has ever been involved the game. You can finally get to understand the man from the inside of his life and not have to guess what was going on in his head. He's very forthcoming and candid about all of the ups and downs of his whole life -not just his basketball career and he pulls no punches."―Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

"West has proven to be the rarest of all-time great athletes by revealing, without a shadow of a doubt, that he's unfailingly human. His hard-scrabble origins and resulting trauma over the decades is proof that fame and fortune is no safeguard against life's trials and tribulations...the release of his autobiography...reveals an uncharacteristically personal side that bares his soul to the core."―John Harris, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"Searing...Very compelling.... It's like West taking Tony Soprano's chair in Dr. Melfi's office and explaining every detail of the most famous career in NBA player-exec history.... Like listening to Van Gogh talk about why he painted what he did."―Tim Kawakami, The San Jose Mercury News

"West by West isn't a typical sports biography, and it doesn't take long to figure that out."―Greg Moore, The Charleston Gazette

"Jerry West did not need to do the difficult work in healing himself that he has done in this book.....This is nothing short of amazing courage."―Anne Phillips, Huffington Post

"Who wouldn't want to be Jerry West? Well, maybe Jerry West, for one. Hardcore fans will relish West's reflections on the game that has obsessed him, stories about teammates and opposing players, and his selections for an all-time Dream Game....In a genre notorious for merely waving pompoms, West offers an unusually candid account of his personal and professional life."―Kirkus Reviews

"If West's star is among the brightest in the NBA firmament, the dark side of his success, told with startling candor, is almost too painful to learn. But fans of the game will want to understand what made

Jerry West run."―Alan Moores, Booklist

"Reads like a modern history of basketball, replete with stories of the greats."―Ross Atkin, Christian Science Monitor

About the Author

Jerry West is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. After retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers in 1974, West went on to lead the team-- first as a coach, and then as the general manager. He lives in California and West Virginia.

Jonathan Coleman is the bestselling author of Exit the Rainmaker, At Mother's Request, and Long Way to Go. He is a former producer and correspondent with CBS News.He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (October 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031605349X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316053495
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Growing up as a basketball junkie, I first read about Jerry West as a kid in some old book pulled off my brothers' bookshelf. I tried to model my practice habits after his own, spending hours outside shooting all on my own. Even then I was fascinated by him, by his great drive. So I was glad to see this book come out. It's only now that I've read West by West that I understand what motivated him, at least in part. Jerry is very brave in writing the book and telling the honest details of his life and in sharing so many of his thought processes and emotions with us. An interesting man who thinks widely and deeply about many things--his childhood and family, the pain that feuled him, his career in basketball, happiness, nature, music, art, his relationships, friendships, his loyalty to people and places, education, race, spirituality, life and death--Jerry West looks back and explores his past (and present) candidly. As tough as his public façade may be, he shows that he has great compassion for others and a tender, fragile heart. He describes himself as a wounded boy/man who's continually asking questions, trying to learn and understand more and more about himself and the world. The book is often very sad, so much so that you can feel the depression he battles and understand his frustration in not being able to overcome it--though his story does end with some measure of hope that he has begun to find peace in working through his past. Far more than a shallow tell-all autobiography by a former sports star. Jonathan Coleman, the author who wrote the book with Jerry West, did a great job of staying out of the way and keeping the book in Jerry's voice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WEST BY WEST: My Charmed, Tormented Life, is a powerfully revealing work that puts a human face on the whole notion of "heroism." Reading it is like having Jerry West in the room, not the icon of the NBA but a real man who breathes and bleeds just like the rest of us. Each page is unbelievably personal...very compelling. Though filled with many first-hand accounts about other NBA greats and his life with the Lakers and much more, the real story is West's brave decision to tell the hard truth about himself. It took real courage to write this book. An entertaining read, it's also an inspiration to all of us facing life's most difficult challenges. WEST BY WEST,in sharp contrast to typical egocentric celebrity, is by far the most authentic autobiography I've ever read. Doug Washington
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Format: Hardcover
I have heard that Jerry West's family did not want him to write this book. Perhaps given the demons he has struggled with they wanted him to leave sleeping lions alone vs. risk awakening them.

I am glad he didn't go along with his family otherwise he wouldn't have given us the gift he has.

West by West is one of the most authentic and gutsy autobiographies I have ever read and I think you will feel the same.

More importantly I think there are far too many people living alone with their demons and I think they will find comfort and hopefully hope in this breakthrough book about the challenges of getting not just past depression, but over it.

In fact if there are any "strong and silent" types of people that you know where you sense that what is going on deep inside them feels neither strong or silent to them, give them this book as a gift saying, "This book spoke to me and hope it might speak to you."

BTW the way, the book spoke to ME.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jerry West was my idol as I was growing up. This statement could have been made by many other West Virginia children as well as hundreds of thousands outside the Mountain State. If outsiders asked, "What is the difference between your state and the state of Virginia?", We would respond, "We had "WEST".

After reading this book, I quickly realized that our state moniker, "Almost Heaven", did not ring true for Jerry during his youth. Experiencing a difficult childhood, more unnurturing and unpleasant than we had ever been led to believe, it is simply amazing to me, that this man could be so fan friendly, courteous and publically humble all his life. Make no mistake, for a devoted fan this is a must read, but a difficult one. So compelling, that I could not put it down! It is a book for adults, however, due to its candid, transparent and honest assessments.

I met Jerry at Camp Wahoo, his basketball camp in Virginia in 1970. He had just lost his 7th NBA championship, this time to the Knicks. Depsite his personal disappointments, he was gracious and kind to each and every camper.(Ditto, 1971.) He agreed to all photograph and autograph requests, which, by the way, were always neat, legible and carefully written. Never rushed. Thirty seven years later, upon re-meeting him at Bob Huggin's Fantasy Camp in Morgantown, WV, I discovered how remakably consistent his autograph was.

At that Fantasy camp in June 2008, I had the priveledge of sharing dinner with Jerry and his co-author, Jonathan Coleman. (I actually introduced Mr. Coleman to Jerry's 1973 book, "Basketball My Way", which he was unaware existed at the time, but I digress). Jerry asked me why I decided at age 50 to attend the camp. I responded that my impetus was to meet him again!
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