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Against All Odds: My Story
Author: Chuck Norris (with Ken Abraham)
Publisher: Broadman and Holman 
Pages: 246 

Chuck Norris is best known for a series of martial arts movies in the 1980s and his hit TV show, "Walker Texas Ranger" that aired on CBS for eight seasons.  Norris was also very successful in martial arts tournaments and in teaching the martial arts.

Against All Odds is Norris' telling of his life story starting with his life as a youth and running until the present.  The sections on his life as a youth are quite interesting as they discuss life with an alcoholic father who frequently moved the family from state to state.  When one thinks of Norris, one would not think of someone who was nervous speaking as a young man, but this was true.  One of the biggest areas where Norris was able to strengthen self-esteem was through his involvement in martial arts.  Martial arts have been an important and very large part of his life so it is covered a great deal in this book.  Norris first started in martial arts while serving in the military going so far as to train with various teachers to learn different kinds of martial arts.  

After serving his time in the military Norris came back to the United States and started teaching martial arts.  In the beginning, things were slow and enrollment was low, and Norris thought that if he won some martial arts tournaments it would result in some exposure for his school.  While he didn't win his first few tournaments, he was eventually successful in winning some tournaments and his schools became highly successful.  The schools were so successful that a number of celebrities were taking lessons from him, including the Osmond's, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker, Bob Barker, Priscilla Presley, and Steve McQueen.  Eventually the schools were bought by a larger firm and sold and bought again several times.  This eventually resulted in the schools and Norris being broke and nearly filing for bankruptcy.  He did not have to file for bankruptcy but he did have to sell all his schools.  It was at this time that at the urging of his friend Bruce Lee (yes, that Bruce Lee) that Chuck Norris became involved in movies.  Steve McQueen also suggested that Norris get involved in movies.  With very little formal training in acting and producers across the country saying that the karate movie genre was dead, Norris started acting in several small movies and eventually starred in a movie that was written by a friend of his. While it was tough early on, eventually he found success in movies such a Lone Wolf McQuade, Code of Silence, Delta Force, and three Missing in Action films.

Against All Odds also deals with Chuck Norris' divorce and remarriage, "Walker Texas Ranger," and his involvement in the campaigns of George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.  For those who are wondering why Norris appears in infomercials selling the Total Gym, this autobiography explains why.  It also answers the question of whose idea that horrible theme song for "Walker Texas Ranger" was.

The book is an easy but enjoyable read.  Fans of Norris' will enjoy the book, but those who are not fans of his may have mixed feelings on the book.  Those who are not his fans may grow bored with the discussion of his involvement in martial arts.  

Whether one is a fan or not, Chuck Norris' story is an inspirational one as he describes his life from his poor upbringing to his current success. This book shows how God's hand has been on Norris' life. This alone makes the book an interesting .

Burton Wray October 17, 2004


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