Book Review — Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling’s Original Sheik

Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling’s Original Sheik by Brian Solomon explores the tumultuous life and career of The Sheik — one of the most enigmatic figures in the history of pro wrestling. Does Brian’s book do The Sheik justice? Read on for my review.

Publisher’s Summary

The captivating story of how The Sheik captured the imagination of a generation, conquered the wrestling business, and lost it all in a blaze of flame and glory

He was the most vicious, bloodthirsty, reviled villain in the history of the ring. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, he drew record crowds everywhere he went and left a trail of burned and bloody opponents in his wake. He was The Sheik: the mysterious and terrifying madman from Syria whose wanton destruction and mayhem are the stuff of wrestling legend. But what those legions of fans screaming for his head never knew was that The Sheik was really Eddie Farhat.

From Lansing, Michigan, and the son of Arab immigrants, Farhat served his country proudly in World War II and was fulfilling the American dream through hard work and tireless dedication to his craft. And when he wasn’t screaming unintelligibly and attacking his enemies with sharp objects, he was busy being the owner and operator of World Wide Sports, one of the most successful wrestling companies in North America.

This is Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling’s Original Sheik.

My Thoughts

I interviewed Brian Solomon for the book I’m writing about the first 20 years of TNA/IMPACT Wrestling because he’s an accomplished author and journalist whose opinion I, and many others, hold in high regard. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in English and is a gifted writer with a strong command of the language.

Brian has written numerous pro wrestling books, including several for WWE, his employer from 2000-2007. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the gold standard when it comes to writing about pro wrestling, so I was eager to read his latest work, Blood and Fire.

To be completely honest, prior to reading Blood and Fire, I had almost no knowledge of The Sheik. I grew up watching wrestling in the 1990s, so I was fully aware of his nephew, Sabu, especially since I’m from Philadelphia, the home of ECW. But having grown up on WWE, WCW, and TNA, I knew nothing about The Sheik.

I bought both the e-book and audiobook versions of Blood and Fire. I chose to experience it for the first time by listening to the audiobook, narrated by the author. Brian regularly hosts the Pro Wrestling Illustrated podcast, so he’s used to being on the stick, as they say, but I was even more impressed by his first foray in the audiobook realm. His delivers the material with reverence and poise, striking a balanced, engaging cadence. The Blood and Fire audiobook was a pleasure to listen to the whole way through.

The fact that Brian was unable to interview any of The Sheik’s immediate family — a fact he admits in an author’s note at the start of the book — and still wrote such a magnificent biography is a monumental achievement.

Broken into 18 chapters, the audiobook is 14-and-half-hours long. It’s a comprehensive tale about The Sheik’s life on both sides of the ropes that is well paced. No chapter drags on too long or feels half-baked.

What I love most about Blood and Fire is it showcases Brian’s gifted writing style while remaining easily digestible, and most importantly, informative and entertaining. It attains the perfect mix of appealing to word nerds and ardent pro wrestling fans — two camps I proudly occupy.

Blood and Fire is one of those books you don’t know you should read until you do. I’m glad I did because I’m better for it. I now know about The Sheik, his promotion, and those in which he wrestled; his relationship with Sabu, and the legacy he left behind. It’s a tale for the ages, written by one of the best. I implore you to read (or listen) to it, so you can learn about this mysterious pioneer of hardcore wrestling.

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