The Eighth Wonder of the World: The True Story of André the Giant by Bertrand Hébert and Pat Laprade

April 9, 2020

Profiling the subject of the tallest of tall tales, this extensive biography strives for truth without sacrificing readability.

Between graphic novels, a WWE published bio and two documentaries, the story of Andre’s life has been covered multiple times but never in such depth. Running nearly 400 pages it covers the familiar stories but also lesser-covered parts of his career including his time in Europe and Mexico and his importance to the Montreal territory.

The book is written with a dose of healthy scepticism and aims to find the true story behind commonly debated “facts” such as Andre’s true height, his childhood, his copious drinking sessions and even his date of birth. What makes this particularly effective is that the authors present the conflicting evidence and explain the working, making clear where uncertainty remains.

One inherent drawback is that pursuing the true story of Andre’s life means this doesn’t provide the neat narrative of some previous accounts. That’s just reality however, and you certainly get a rounded account of Andre as both a professional and a person, without a one-dimensional character portrayal. The book does a good job of explaining why Andre — who was far from the tallest pro wrestler ever — created such a larger-than-life legend.

While there’ll never be an Andre autobiography and there’s little if any record of a first-hand account of his life outside the world of wrestling hype, the book is also the closest thing to understanding what it must have been like to be Andre Roussimoff.

For anyone with an interest in the territorial and expansion eras or in the personalities behind wrestling, this comes with the highest recommendation.

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(The Eighth Wonder of the World is released in the US on April 14. The publishers supplied a review copy.)

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