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West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,087 ratings  ·  123 reviews

It was only logical that when the National Basketball Association needed a silhouette for their logo that they selected the side view of Jerry West. For forty years, West has been an integral part of N.B.A. history, first as a player and then as a coach and general manager. "Mr. Clutch" made the All-Star team every year of his career and created the dynasties that would wi

Hardcover, 338 pages
Published October 19th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  1,087 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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Brett C
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
This was an OK autobiography. I was expecting more from the legend but was still decent. In my opinion the story lacked the energy and intrigue to keep me 100% most of the time. It was good but I felt Mr. West was being modest and holding back most of time. For good basketball biographies I've read, I would suggest Pete Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete by Wayne Federman and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich by Mark Kriegel. Thanks! ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I like how it is meant for his therapy after suffering from depression
Sofia Lima
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Here's what I knew about Jerry West: he is the NBA symbol and... that's it.
So I cried my eyes out when I found out about his brother and when he talked about depression. Great book.
Feb 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
James Swenson
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Neill Caldwell
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the "Sports Illustrated" excerpt a lot, enough to buy the book. The book was slightly disappointing, more of a traditional biography than I'd hoped. West does share about his depression and other illnesses, but doesn't dig as deep into his own psyche as I would have liked. ...more
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I picked up West by West after reading Jack McCallum’s Golden Days which ties the current Golden State Warriors title teams to Jerry West’s 1971-72 title-winning and 33-game-win-streak having Lakers team, but feels more like a West biography than anything else. In hindsight, I would’ve preferred to read WBW first as it ends just as West was starting with the Warriors.
For those unfamiliar with West, the silhouette that makes up the NBA logo is based on him. He played for the Los Angeles Lakers h
I bought this back when I didn't have shelves, and it sat on my floor in a stack until I moved, then returned to the floor until my bookcase was delivered. I picked it off the shelf this week while in a dark mood -- or a depressive fugue state, depending on how dramatic I want to sound -- looking for some guidance or solace, knowing that West has long battled depression.

Did it help?

I found some commonalities between West's experiences and mine, particularly his obsessive nature, hatred of confl
Dan Shonka
Jan 27, 2022 rated it liked it
This is an interesting read. Jerry West, certainly one of the best basketball players ever, shares what drove him to excellence. Along the way he shares how internally tortured he's been/is. In today's world where we talk about how we should talk about mental health more, well, Jerry West shares his flaws. He shares the causes of his pain and depression. He tells some about his successes, but he wants to stay humble and not brag. Yet he also wants the reader to know he's worked hard and been at ...more
Turk Finnery
I guess I better mention right off the bat that I’ve only been a Lakers fan since the Kobe Bryant era. I was too young to even really see Magic Johnson play, so almost all of the events in this book were way before my time. Maybe my opinions on this don't matter as much. But everyone knows Jerry West was one of the greats, and he’s the one who even made that Kobe era possible in the first place, so I was really looking forward to reading this.

I recently read another celebrity autobiography (Insi
May 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Certainly honest, but repetitive. Additionally, he jumps all over the place--from the start, his life & family in West Virginia are woven between stories of BB games & relationships & stories from different times in his life. This pattern repeats itself chapter after chapter. Would have benefited from some editing, to clean & tighten up the story, which is an amazing thing to say given Jerry had a co-author. Chalking that up to a very large ego, (Jerry's), which likely didn't make it easy for th ...more
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: baloncesto
This is an autobiography by the silhouetted figure of the NBA logo, though he isn't particularly comfortable with that. Here we have a book that is about far more than his life in basketball. Hes explains himself and shares his story and his journey in life and basketball.

We learn about his lingering insecurities and internal struggles, and how his relationship with his father and his feelings and anger toward him, as well as the death of his brother in Korea, forged his character.

Based a lot on
Aug 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
Memoir in hard-back edition. Jerry West's picture
on the cover of this book became the NBA logo.

I previously read memoirs by NBA greats Larry Bird,
Julius Erving, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar (his last season
w/ the Lakers), & Steve Kerr (player + later champion
NBA coach).

Jerry West, born in West Virginia, was the 5th of 6 kids.
His parents did not show love or affection & Jerry's dad
beat him. Sometimes the family made do on limited funds.
This left a lasting impression. Jerry played HS basket-
ball, th
Nov 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
The strangest sports autobiography I've read, and I've read quite a few. West is one of the greatest basketball players and executives in history, and this book gives insight into essentially none of that. Want to know details behind the Lakers 33-game winning streak in '71-'72? His philosophy behind building championship teams? Won't get that. You will get a long list of his petty grievances and slights he can't get over. Not arranged in chronological order, and barely organized by theme. I end ...more
Ralph Buettner
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best sports autobiographies I have read.

The book was written as if Jerry West was sitting in my home and talking to me as a trusted friend. He was open and honest about his life that many people would find very hard to do. We sports fans tend to see our favorite athletes as only people who play sports and we do not stop to consider that they are just like us - human beings with real human issues. He is one of my all-time favorite basketball players even though I was a Boston Celtic fa
Chandra Garcia
Jun 09, 2022 rated it liked it
West claims its a memoir that will investigate his primal scars, but the biggest reveal is that he can't swim. I wonder if West suffers from the 1950s reticence that either doesn't allow for the baring of secrets, or still fears it will make him less of a man. The youthful NBA and Lakers passages are the best...the rest devolves into an autobiographical list of famous friends. For such a fascinating sports figure, the reader demands more than lists, even of West's stats. But he tried, and we res ...more
Tim Barlow
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good mix of NBA History, West's personal life/achievements, as well as a good discussion on how he has dealt with depression throughout his whole life despite his many accomplishments. West certainly has a unique perspective on things and it's interesting to learn about all the personal relationships he's had over the years with notable figures throughout NBA history, as well as the impact he has had on the game as a player and executive. ...more
J. J.
Oct 10, 2019 added it
West has written one of the most unique sports autobiographies ever. It’s a witness to his deep intellect, raw emotions, and churning competitive drive. He is, by his own admission, a sensitive and tortured man, with a great capacity for selfishness and a great capacity for kindness. West lets us in, and what we find when we enter is sobering and compelling.
Tim Clark
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Jerry West was my basketball hero, growing up. I wore wristbands and emulated my jump shot to match his. Now, I just feel sorrow and pity for him. The constant torment that is expressed and repeated throughout the book wore me down. So much bitterness and negativity; I only completed it because I felt I owed it to him. Sadly, I cannot recommend this to anyone, even my basketball friends.
Jul 13, 2022 rated it liked it
“On a simpler level, what I do know is that I played in order to try and feel good about myself when everything else in my life was confusing and frustratingly unexplainable. And my often wanting to take the last shot, I see ever more clearly, was a desperate need for control on my part - when the rest of my life was in chaos - a fierce desire to write my own ending.”
Jeff Alexy
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Very interesting life and stories but it's clear that it's an autobiography (or maybe just poorly edited?). There are some slow parts and several parts that should have been cut out or rewritten. But there was still a lot of good material. ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting musings by JW on his own path to basketball greatness and glory, less focused on the juicy Lakers/NBA anecdotes you might be hoping for, and more on his own internal struggle to overcome self-doubt and relate to any of the people around him.
Craig Bandason
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Jerry West is unquestionably a legend but I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. Maybe my expectations were too high. Besides sparking interest in The hero’s journey book by Joseph Campbell I failed to get much from it.
Peter Young
Jul 11, 2021 rated it it was ok
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed by this book. I figured Jerry West, with all his experiences, would have incredible stories to share. There were some, but the writing was not great and many stories or characters I hoped West would discuss were left out entirely.
May 04, 2022 rated it did not like it
I read this book around the time the HBO series about the Showtime Lakers came out. Jerry West very publicly complained that the show doesn’t accurately portray him. After reading the book - I feel the show paints him in a significantly better light than his autobiography does.
Jon Mills
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book candidly reveals the struggles of Jerry West from early childhood until today. I enjoyed the insights and inside history. The book jumped around and could have been better written
Jim Swike
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent autobiography. However, he focuses mostly on his post playing career. I would would have loved to learn more about the Hall of Fame player. Maybe you will feel differently. Enjoy!
Dale Bennett
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you like basketball. . .a must read! But book goes into so much more.
Carlton Moore
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the best, and most honest, memoirs I've ever come across. Helped me understand human nature which is all I can ask for. ...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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