The curious recollections of a man whose passions include Chinese medicine and espionage.
Lee is a true Renaissance man. Raised in New York City’s Chinatown, he fought as a U.S. Marine artillery officer in Vietnam, ran secret agents for the CIA, co-founded a martial arts school and is now a practicing acupuncturist. He shares his adventures on what he calls the four “paths” of his life in this tantalizing, clever memoir. A self-described “Scholar Warrior,” he tells how he joined the Marine Reserves in 1961 while in college, escaped land mines and sniper fire in Southeast Asia, and eventually retired as a lieutenant colonel. But the most interesting item on his resume is his 30-year career in the CIA. Trained in black arts such as lock-picking, disguise and clandestine surveillance, Lee served undercover and in command positions around the globe. Unfortunately, for security reasons, he doesn’t name the countries where he operated, but he does reveal an intriguing amount of spycraft. His account of how he recruited a foreign diplomat named “Adam” to feed him information provides readers with an authentic glimpse into the shadowy world of international espionage. Lee embarked on his “Teacher” path by opening a school in Virginia that instructed students in kung fu, taijiquan, and qi gong, a type of Chinese yoga. Finally, at age 57, Lee put his boundless energy into the study of traditional Chinese medicine. On the surface, being a scholar-warrior-teacher-healer seems rife with contradictions, but Lee views his life paths as “interrelated and mutually supportive,” following in the tradition of the ancient Chinese knights who prized both fighting skills and intellectual attainment. He tells his life story in vignettes arranged by theme, so it’s sometimes difficult to keep the timeline straight as Lee’s life paths overlap. The book’s greatest pleasure is the diverse cast of characters that Lee encountered over the years, such as a Chinese cook and kung fu master who bludgeoned a burglar with an iron skillet, a spit-and-polish Marine major who insisted on being saluted even while wearing a bath towel, and a renowned expert in Chinese swordsmanship.
An entertaining, inspiring story of personal reinvention.