King of the Ring by Harley Race

September 5, 2019

A storied career is somewhat let down by a lack of depth in this autobiography that falls short of its potential.

Race has an eventful and distinctive history to tell: not just his multiple NWA title runs, but also being trained by the original Zbyszkos (upon whose farm he worked) and even working the carnival circuit where betting scams were as key as drawing crowds.

The book has plenty of stories, with an unusual encounter with Vince McMahon a highlight, but it’s certainly not a comprehensive career history. The chronology jumps around a little with some chapters being more thematic. There’s also relatively little insight into Race’s thinking and why he made particular decisions.

Despite the book being relatively brief, there’s still some sections that feel like padding: for example, when talking about his time managing Lex Luger, the book includes several paragraphs on Luger’s subsequent WWF run.

The overall effect is somewhat like reading a transcript of a poorly conducted shoot interview rather than a fully-fleshed life story. It’s still worth your time reading if you can get a good price, but it’s the subject rather than the content which carries the book.

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One Comment

  • AW September 15, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    Spot on. I think it’s safe to assume that somebody like Harley preferred keeping his cards close to himself, and only went into as much detail as he chose, and only about certain subjects that he felt necessary to share. If anyone deserved a Bret Hart length biography, it was Harley Race, and perhaps a more experienced ghost-writer/interviewer could have gotten more out of Harley.

    However I still enjoy the book because, as you said, it’s the subject not the content that carries it.

    I will say though that I was not happy with the price I paid for it online last year, though it was the cheapest I could find it at that particular time. What really bent me out of shape was about three months after I bought it, NWALegends on Twitter had updated copies for sale signed by Harley himself for around $20.00 US. Now that Harley has passed away, I should have just bit the bullet and scored one of them and just rationalized the price I would have paid for both copies combined being for the autograph. Oh well.
    There are more than a few interesting stories, but considering everything he lived through and witnessed, it truly should have been so much more than what it is.

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