Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart

September 20, 2019

If you despise Bret Hart or you have no attention span, this might be worth a miss. For everyone else, it’s as close to a must-read as it gets.

The most mindblowing thing about Hart’s autobiography is that the first draft was reportedly as much as three times longer than the nearly 600 pages here. It’s hard to tell whether that would be the best or worst wrestling book you could ever read.

What was published is incredibly in-depth, covering every match and incident of any note and many others. While older wrestlers, particularly ones who’ve suffered serious concussions and strokes, don’t always have the best memories, Hart kept detailed records not just of the events in his career, but his reactions and state of mind at the time.

It’s clearly a book written to be completist rather than tailor it to emphasise what a publisher might assume to be the most appealing sections. There’s extensive detail on his pre-WWF days, while the section of Montreal is sufficient but is certainly not dwelled on to excess.

The flaws, such as they are, are limited. Hart is exceedingly confident about his own abilities, something that may grate on some readers. It becomes something of a running joke how many times he mentions other wrestlers congratulating him on a match. And there are certainly cases of exaggerating such as claiming the Davey Boy Smith match at Wembley Stadium lasted 37 minutes.

These are not serious detractions though. The book is both a fascinatingly detailed insight into one man’s life and career and a history of the WWF during both its national expansion era and the dark days of the mid-90s.

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  • Jason Presley September 20, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Bret’s book also lines up well with Dynamite Kid’s book. In the various places where stories overlap, they are consistent.

  • AW September 20, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    This is an excellent book. I was starting to outgrow wrestling in favor of boxing around the time he became one of the top singles wrestlers, and he always seemed to beat the guys I liked and lose to the guys I hated. Over the years, I came to appreciate him more.
    It is quite a hefty tome, and those 600+ pages are not padded by giant-sized Dick and Jane font. I breeze through most wrestling books within 5-8 hours; this one took me an entire 3-day weekend of virtually non-stop reading.
    Sure there are some spots that Bret tends to take himself too seriously, but none of it is unwarranted as opposed to someone like Mick Foley. Foley, in his initial book, made it sound like every fan everywhere he worked cared about him and the only thing holding him back was bad booking. Not hardly. Until the “Three Faces of Foley” vignettes, he was meaningless; I could take him or leave him and if he left, I didn’t miss him. The entire crowd (myself included) was doing the wave for the majority of his tag title loss at Bash at the Beach ’94. Nobody cared. Bret on the other hand was one of the very best pro wrestlers of the last 40 years. I don’t mind a little bit of ego coming from him.
    Another thing that impressed me with Bret’s book (and correct me if I’m wrong) was that he’s the only wrestler I know of other than Foley that actually wrote his own book, without the aid of a ghostwriter.
    I occasionally will re-read certain chapters but it’s not one I can see myself re-reading cover-to-cover again (like I do with “Hooker” which is my absolute favorite wrestling book bar none; I’ve worn that poor book out) , or at least any time soon due to it’s sheer volume.
    This is still a must have and it is a great book that leaves nothing out.