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West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  585 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Jerry West is one of the most revered and enigmatic sports icons of all time, but beneath the surface lies a complicated man who shares his true story with unflinching candor.

WEST BY WEST recounts West's difficult journey from an abusive childhood in West Virginia (and the loss of a beloved brother to war) to his All-American success at West Virginia University, and his b
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Back Bay Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jan 26, 2012 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
James Swenson
It was interesting to learn more about West's remarkable career, which was before my time. As a memoir, though, this seemed disorganized and disjointed. West (and his ghostwriter) was allowed to describe himself rather than revealing his personality in the course of telling his story. Unfortunately, it became hard for me to trust this flawed character's judgment of himself.
Feb 06, 2012 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Douglas Lord
Aug 27, 2015 Douglas Lord rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just as the idea of onion blossoms, canned peaches, and sex on the seashore are all better than the real thing, the same can be said for the idea, the mystique of Jerry West. In fact, almost anything is better than this intolerable, self-aggrandizing affair, including halitosis, botulism, and that awful salt water rash on your bum. Bear with me, warns West on page six before treating readers to the blah blah blah of his hardscrabble upbringing and his bullying, coal miner father. We get hints th ...more
Tom Gase
May 25, 2014 Tom Gase rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
3 of 5 stars (okay)

Today in our celebrity-obsessed culture it can be forgotten that entertainers and athletes can be human too. One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Jerry West, shows his humanity in this candid autobiography written with Jonathan Coleman. He not only shares his flaws with readers, but also does not make excuses nor shows regret for how his life turned out. Nonetheless, West manages to put together a book that is equal parts basketball and personal r
Nov 02, 2015 Aireyanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve chosen to read this book because Jerry West is one of my favorite former basketball players of all time in which he had to deal with juggling basketball while being tortured by his father. This is so interesting to me because my father has been the opposite of Jerry's father when it comes to playing basketball. My father have been my main support system, coach, and friend instead of actually keeping me from pursuing in my goals and dreams. The cover of the book definitely caught my eye and ...more
Mickey Mantle
Apr 16, 2015 Mickey Mantle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just a fantastic read. A childhood hero of mine. Jerry West had an absolute brutal childhood. His father beat him mercilessly and the brother he looked up to was killed in the Korean War. West has battled depression his entire life.
The book, as great autobiographies tend to be, is a book about all kinds of other people who have made a difference and affected his life.
This is not a typical jock book. The focus is on West but at the same time not on West.
It is great when books show the human side
David Corleone
Jun 04, 2014 David Corleone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2014 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 03, 2013 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Mar 02, 2013 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-books
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
G.P. Schultz
Nov 03, 2011 G.P. Schultz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 21, 2015 Todd rated it really liked it
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.

Jun 28, 2013 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dale Stonehouse
Nov 20, 2011 Dale Stonehouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2015 Mhealy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book summarizing the life of Jerry West. It shows that even the most accomplished people overcome challenges. Jerry grew up in Grundy Virginia and overcame an abusive father. His highly influential older brother was killed durring world war two. After an All American Senior season he signed with West Virginia University. He was drafted first overall by the lakers and was an all star in every season. He is now the NBA logo and a hall of famer.
Nov 24, 2011 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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,
Sue Myers
Interesting memoir of by Jerry West, whose profile is the NBA logo. It is a very fast read; sometimes I did get confused because it is not written in chronologic order. Wished he would have told more about the Olympic gold medal that his team won and a bit more about playing for WV Univ. He had a very troubled childhood, but seems like a great person.
Chris Freet
Jan 22, 2015 Chris Freet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
In some ways it reminded me of Andre Agassi's book "Open". Like Agassi, West was tormented from childhood by horrendous parenting from his father. He pours out his soul much more than he recounts his playing career, but along the way gives you a great understanding of how lonely it can be at the top of the sports world as both a player executive.
Frank Hamrick Jr.
Aug 24, 2012 Frank Hamrick Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 17, 2013 Chet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sep 15, 2015 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can only give this book 2.5 stars. This book is a self reflection of a very troubled soul. That he lived his life in sports means this book has a sports context. But this is not really a sports memoir, which is what I was hoping for.
Brian Hull
Nov 06, 2012 Brian Hull rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Jun 24, 2013 D. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.
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