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West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  368 ratings  ·  67 reviews
He is one of basketball's towering figures: "Mr. Clutch," who mesmerized his opponents and fans. The coach who began the Lakers' resurgence in the 1970s. The general manager who helped bring "Showtime" to Los Angeles, creating a championship-winning force that continues to this day.

Now, for the first time, the legendary Jerry West tells his story-from his tough childhood...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published October 19th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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The only reason I read this book through to the end is because of how iconic Jerry West is. Really, this was not a good book. Poorly written and reads more like a 300 page journal entry.
Jerry West was a basketball of the greatest. It's a shame that he had to tarnish that legend with this self-serving, poor-little-millionaire memoir. I suppose it was cathartic for him to participate in the creation of the book (with the help of the talented Jon Coleman) but reading it made me feel more like Jetty's shrink than one of his readers.

Drive your Ferrari out to the country club and tell you golfing pals what a rough deal life dealt you, Mr. West, 'cause your whining fell o...more
Tom Gase
Jerry West, aka the logo, was a great basketball player.
His book is anything but great.
I had read a book on him by Ronald Lazenby a few years back that was really good and for the longest time I said I wouldn't read West by West because, really, what was there to learn about the guy or player I hadn't read already. Then I found this book for a dollar at the book fair and said, "Eh, why not." I should have stuck to my gut feeling.
Look, I feel sorry for Jerry West. The fact that his father beat hi...more
David Corleone
Jerry West's biography is an honest narrative of one of the game's most ambiguous figures. I related to Mr. West on several levels after discovering how introverted and tormented (as the title suggests) was throughout his life and playing career. Having recently read several other books that touched on the NBA in the 1970's, this was particularly enjoyable hearing a first hand account of someone who participated in this era. I wish he had elaborated on Wilt Chamberlain more because I found it pa...more
For the most part, the stories West tells are fairly interesting and entertaining.
However, the book completely lacks continuity and a good flow.
From one paragraph to the next, stories and topics do not really blend in to each other.
It is as if he is constantly changing the subject on himself.
The way this book is put together, you would have thought the authors took 300 pages of writing, shuffled all the papers, and then just decided to submit the work in whatever scrambled order they ended up.
Jerry West had accomplished almost all he could do as a basketball player: member of the 1960 gold medal US Olympic Basketball Team, NBA Champion, NBA Hall of Famer, NBA 50 Greatest Players, All-Star game member every year of his career, orchestrated six NBA titles as general manager of the Lakers, but he enjoyed almost none of it.
With some of the most striking candor and authenticity of any memoir, West openly speaks of his abusive father, distant mother, the early death of his beloved older b...more
Michelle Randall
So I received this book through the Goodreads First-Reads program. I like stories about real people, and I love hearing how they overcame things to become the people they are today.

This was a good book, but I am just not enough of a basketball fan to really understand and get into it all. I know, I live in Indiana, how can I not be a basketball fan, I don't know, trick of fate, but I have never really been all that into basketball, now football is another story altogether.

There were parts that w...more
Michael McLean
Since my mother is a 1956 alumnus of East Bank HS and since she knew Jerry West and since I spent lots of time in Chelyan, Cabin Creek, and surroundings as a kid it's only natural that I became a huge fan of the man. And I was and continue to be. You young whippersnappers can't appreciate what a great player he was. And he topped that by leading the Lakers to five championships.

Maybe because I was familiar with his exploits as a player and an executive I found the book somewhat disappointing. I...more
I guess it really depends on what you're looking for. If you (like me) wanted more insight into how West felt about his playing/coaching/GM days, skip it. This is an unfocused work that meanders in different directions at the drop of a hat. If you wanted more insight into the personally tortured soul of Jerry West, then this should give you what you're looking for. It was a book that was billed as such so it might be my fault for expecting something different. I'm sure it was a cathartic experie...more
Eileen Granfors
Jerry West's autobiography, "West by West," is well aub-titled "My Charmed, Tormented Life." Those of us who grew up in a certain era of pro basketball, when shorts were SHORT, we had posters of Jerry West in our rooms. He is the logo of the NBA. Always serious on court, West could find the basket, seemingly with his eyes clothes. Mr. Clutch, Chick Hearn called him. "Zeke from Cabin Creek," said Bill Russell.

In this book, we find that the exterior competitor is nothing like the living soul of Je...more
G.P. Schultz
I was 16 years old and watching a high school basketball game in my hometown of South Charleston,
West Virginia. The man sitting beside me pointed to a lanky kid on the floor, with East Bank on his jersey, and said that the kid was so smooth that he would score 30 points and I wouldn't even know that he had the ball. I was skeptical, but the man was prophetic, and that was my introduction to Jerry West, who later became an icon in professional basketball.
I was surprised that such a private perso...more
Can someone give Jerry West a hug?

The subtitle isn't kidding: West IS tormented. He's constantly determined to see himself realistically (or pessimistically). Surprisingly, this proves to be the book's saving grace. There were times I wish he'd done the usual athlete's thing of saying, "This happened, and here's how I saved the day," but his downplaying of his skills has the effect of showing how much he admires Elgin Baylor, Bill Russell and other competitors -- a rarity in books like this.

Jerry West aptly earned the nickname "Mr. Clutch" for handling the pressure in the waning moments of a big game. But after reading his recent autobiography, one might also call him "Mr. Angst" for his inability to feel comfortable in his own skin off the court. Who knew that cool cat was so troubled? And it's this naked unveiling that captivates in "West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life."

His unhappy childhood, which included an abusive father and the early death of a beloved brother, is somet...more
Dale Stonehouse
Those expecting a basketball book will be disappointed, but in this psychological confession/self-analysis West tries to discover what has made him so tormented throughout his life. Childhood trauma is almost always a factor for those who have not been in combat; here the roots seem to be in beatings from his father and the resultant need to earn his father's love, and his brother David's death in combat in Korea when he was 13. He describes some classic symptoms of abuse survivors, including pe...more
I won my copy thru Library Things Early Reviewers. This book is the autobiography of Jerry West and I had never heard of him until I read this book. He was a former NBA player tuned manager. I had no idea that the logo of the NBA is modeled after him, that his nickname is Logo. Jerry grew up in West Virginia and had sort of a rough upbringing. It really mad me sad when I read about the loss of his brother. Jerry’s family life was kind of sad after that moment. He rises up through this and goes o...more
I love Jerry West. He and my other Laker hero, Gail Goodrich, held down that Laker back court like no other tandem I've seen in a while. As much as I idolized these two and couldn't wait to delve into this book, I found myself someties losing interest in the story. While learning about the depth of West's depression was new, enlightening information and some of the inside stories were a treat, the overall tone of the book makes it kind of clunky and, well, depressing. It also seems that, over al...more
Joy Petrilli
I received West by West My Charmed, Tormented Life free from Goodreads First Reads. I am not a basketball fan as a matter of fact I have never attended a basketball game, however I love reading and learning about other people and their lives so I was thrilled to win the book and excited to read it.

The writing style was a bit confusing and sometimes hard to follow. The book discusses many other individuals in the basketball world, most of which I have never heard of. The book was just ok for me,...more
You would think that Jerry West would have the perfect life.

After all, he is the NBA logo for crying out loud.

But the title and content of the book reminds us that the world can give you fame and fortune but it can't bring you peace.

Perhaps the line of the book, on one of the final pages was this:

"The real, and more painful question was this: 'What more could I have done to win my father's love?'"

Wow. Sad.
Frank Hamrick Jr.
My dad is from West Virginia and grew up listening to Jerry West. As a result, he made me a fan of "Mr. Clutch". I vaguely remember West playing in 1972 in the NBA finals when he won his one and only NBA title. I was pulling for him and repeated his every move on my little "trash can" basketball goal.

The book was roughly can tell it came straight from Jerry frills. It was hard to read at times, and, at times, I felt so sad. I think, above everything, it reminded me of how...more
I received West by West  My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry Westfree from Goodreads First Reads and began reading immediately. I am thrilled to have won the book through Goodreads First Reads!

I just finished the book. It's a very interesting read. Interesting in that such a tortured life is combined with such achievements. You expect exaggeration and manufactured drama in an autobiography and I think that was the case here. The writing style was distracting in chronology and run on sentences, but maybe that is designed to mirror the Jerry’s fract...more
Mark Lentz
When I first heard about the book, I was led to believe that it would delve deeply into demons from his childhood, especially his relationship with his father. I found that the book glanced the topic, and that he used that fact to spend most of the time trying to justify acting like a jerk to other people.

The book would still have been readable if he had decided to talk more about his life as a player, especially if he had gone more in-depth with regard to his college, Olympic, and pro careers....more
Mary (BookHounds)
You don't need to be a basketball fan to enjoy this wonderfully honest memoir from Jerry West with his co-author Jonathan Coleman. If you are a basketball fan, then this book is a must have and it doesn't matter which team you follow. Growing up in the Los Angeles area during West's tenure with the LA Lakers, you couldn't avoid cheering for the team, so this book with inside look at the Lakers is just wonderful. West really pulls the covers off of his own life and opens up about the abuse he suf...more
Brian Hull

Loved this one so much. So many similarities to some of my own feelings. How can he even cope with the torture he was dealt as a child? He never wants to be the center of attention (like me), plus he states his father never took any interest in him too. One of his quotes really hit home..."This whole mix of self-hatred, failure and low self-esteem plagued me." And, this one is the kicker for me..."I am still uncomfortable when people praise me because the one person I wanted praise from-my fath...more
Jerry West does not hold anything back. He was upfront about his childhood, playing career, NBA executive career, and the people in his life (especially the people in his life). I thought it was interesting that the game of basketball is the source of most of his happiness yet is also responsible for the inner angst he deals with daily. Talk about a catch-22! The one issue I had with West's biography was his incessant self-loathing. He constantly is putting himself down and that came off as whin...more
John Branney
I picked up the book at the library without any preconceived notions about Jerry West or his book. I know who Jerry West is, but really did not follow his career very closely. I was expecting a book about Jerry West's philosophies on sports, business, and life. I found the book disorganized and with very little insight or wisdom from Mr. West. I found in the book he was either bragging or complaining.

I read somewhere that Mr. West used the book as a mechanism for therapy. I hoped it worked for h...more
The subtitle..."My Charmed, Tormented Life" is so appropriate. Who knew that Jerry West was such a tortured individual? Jerry has suffered from depression his whole life and has been unable to shake it except for short periods. The writing in the book was appropriate for a person with low self esteem, with the constant explanations for sentences he thought might be questioned by someone. He was so self aware and anxious to avoid any criticism to any of his stories. Ultimately, this book was a pa...more
Interesting autobiography if a bit free form in chronology. Some whole sections of his life are left undiscussed, leaving odd holes but his brutal candor in other sections of his life is brave. He is by all accounts a taciturn man and has chosen this forum to reveal and maybe make peace. He was hard to live with over the time of reading this book, however. He has a gloom and hardness that he explains but doesn't eleviate. You might think he would be uniquely placed to describe the differences be...more
This is a terrific sports biography of one of basketball's greatest players of all time. He came from a hard scrabble life in West Virginia. His father was a brutal disciplinarian, probably not unusual for the times and place. But Jerry had an inner drive, that allowed him to overcome so much adversity.
As an adult, he was very aware of his social inabilities, and lack of certain emotions. Instead of letting that influence his direction in life, he learned to live with himself. As a reader and fa...more
Pat Wakeman
As a lifetime Lakers fan, I was eager to read Jerry's book. Most of the highlights are covered here (Olympic gold medal, Lakers championships), as well as the many noteworthy athletes (Wilt, Elgin Baylor, Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, James Worthy, Magic). Still, Jerry fails to enjoy any of the spoils of his success, stemming primarily from an abusive childhood and the unfortunate death of his brother David during the Korean War. The "tormented" part of this title is certainly appropriate, and by the time...more
Jerry West truly had a charmed and tormented life. He carries much baggage along with him. It is painful to read about how he can not let things go that he has no control over. He clearly excelled at the game of basketball. It seems he got so good by trying to escape the pains of his family life. He was one of the best ever to lace up shoes and step on the court. This is not an uplifting story, but I get the feeling that he tells it how he perceived things to be for him. I don't think I would re...more
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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.
More about Jerry West...
Mr. Clutch;: The Jerry West story The Happy Hollisters And The Trading Post Mystery (Happy Hollisters, #7) The Happy Hollisters on a River Trip (Happy Hollisters, #2) Los Hollister contra los ladrones The Happy Hollisters at Sea Gull Beach  (Happy Hollisters, #3)

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