Synopses & Reviews
In 1999, after a series of adventurous jobs--working construction at the South Pole, ranching in Montana, fighting wildfires in New Mexico, and sailing private yachts around the world--Sam Sheridan found himself in Australia, loaded with cash and intent on not working until he'd spent it all. He quit smoking and began working out at a local gym, where it slowly occurred to him that now, without distractions, he could finally indulge a long-dormant obsession: fighting. Within a year Sheridan landed in Bangkok to train at the legendary Fairtex gym with the greatest fighter in muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) history. Driven by a desire to know what only a fighter can--about fear and violence, about the dark side of masculinity, and most of all about himself--he stepped through the ropes for a professional bout. That single fight wasn't enough. Sheridan set out to test himself on an epic journey into how and why we fight. From small-town Iowa to the beaches of Rio, from the streets of Oakland to the arenas of Tokyo, he trained, traveled, and fought with Olympic boxers, Brazilian jiu-jitsu stars, and Ultimate Fighting champions. A Fighter's Heart is the dazzling chronicle of Sheridan's quest. In part, it's an insightful look at violence as a career and as a spectator sport, a behind-the-pageantry glimpse of athletes at the top of their terrifying game. At the same time, it's a dizzying firsthand account of what it's like to reach the peak of finely disciplined personal aggression, to hit--and be hit.
"Just out of Harvard University, Sheridan set out to discover if he had what it took to be a fighter. His quest takes the reader around the globe and through most of the major martial arts disciplines muay thai in Thailand, jiu-jitsu in Brazil, tai chi in New York City and boxing in Oakland, Calif., to name a few. On his way, Sheridan trains beside, lives with and learns from some of the most dangerous men in the world. He even gets into the ring himself and beats a Japanese karate champion in his very first fight. It's impossible not to admire Sheridan's bravery and tenacity he's done more wild things in 10 years than the average man would in a hundred lifetimes (Sheridan also worked in the merchant marine, as a smoke jumper and as a construction worker in Antarctica). However, Sheridan's attempt to cram so many of his adventures into one book diffuses their impact, reading more like a bunch of magazine articles strung together. Sheridan's prose is straightforward and illuminating at times, but he jumps so quickly from one adventure to the next that readers don't have the opportunity to immerse themselves in any of them." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Sheridan seems sincerely interested in testing hisphysical limits, but after his early injuries, neither he nor his book ever regain momentum or the reader's interest." Kirkus Reviews
"It isn't Sheridan's toughness or fearlessness that makes this an involving excursion into a shadow world; it's his ability to re-create the textures of those shadows and to make us care about his oddly quixotic journey." Booklist
"After reading Sam's book you'll be sweating like you were there with him, you might even have blood trickling out of your nose." Pat Miletich
"From childhood, we search out questions, curiously going places we're told not to, instinctively testing ourselves perhaps walking across a thin beam above a construction site as our heart goes fast then quiet. There is something in a man that demands to know what he can handle, and what he can't or won't. Sam Sheridan goes to find out and he takes everyone with him." Teddy Atlas
In 1999, after a series of wildly adventurous jobs around the world, Sam Sheridan found himself in Australia, loaded with cash and intent on not working until he'd spent it all. It occurred to him that, without distractions, he could finally indulge a long-dormant obsession: fighting. Within a year, he was in Bangkok training with the greatest fighter in muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) history and stepping through the ropes for a professional bout. That one fight wasn't enough. Sheridan set out to test himself on an epic journey into how and why we fight, facing Olympic boxers, Brazilian jiu-jitsu stars, and Ultimate Fighting champions. Along the way, Sheridan delivers an insightful look at violence as a career and a spectator sport, a behind-the-pageantry glimpse of athletes at the top of their terrifying game.
An extraordinary combination of gonzo journalism and participatory sports writing, A Fighter's Heart is a dizzying first-hand account of what it's like to reach the peak of finely disciplined personal aggression, to hit and be hit.
About the Author
Sam Sheridan joined the U.S. Merchant Marines after high school and then attended Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1998. He has written for Men's Journal and Newsweek. This is his first book.