I've finished reading the book. It is very well done, and very thorough. It covers the usual ground everyone is by now familiar with, while also emphasizing certain people's points of view and explaining certain events that Polley must have felt were not fully explored before. Polley interviewed a lot of people, including the obvious: Linda, Fred Weintraub, and Betty Ting Pei, as well as the not so obvious: Jay Sebring's nephew, Sharon Ferrell, Thordis Brandt, etc for the book. I wish he had interviewed Nora Miao too. But overall, I have to give Polley kudos for doing the legwork. I think it's a book that LJF would like.
I will add more to my comments later when I've gone through the book in more detail.
Polley's theory of death does make sense. The only quibble I have is that although the May 10th collapse and July 20th death share many similarities of symptoms, the July 20th death did not include vomiting and seizures. However, I think the heat stroke theory still remains a strong possibility.
Here is an excerpt from the book Bruce Lee: A Life, about the cause of death. Since the quote codes don't work on the forum, I will just copy and paste from the book without quotes:
On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee died from heat stroke. It is the most plausible scientific theory for his death. Consider the timeline. Ten weeks earlier on May 10, 1973, Bruce Lee collapsed after working in a boiling hot room. He displayed multiple symptoms of central nervous system dysfunction (nausea, vomiting, staggering, collapse), and his temperature was dangerously elevated—the two diagnostic criteria for hyperthermia. Bruce had a long history of being vulnerable to heat. His risk factor was increased by sleep deprivation, extreme weight loss, and the recent surgical removal of his armpit sweat glands.
July 20, 1973, was the hottest day of the month in tropical Hong Kong. In Betty Ting Pei’s small apartment, Bruce demonstrated scene after kung fu scene from Game of Death. “In telling the story, he acted out the whole thing,” Raymond Chow says. “So, that probably made him a little tired and thirsty. After a few sips he seemed to be a little dizzy.” Just like on May 10, Bruce exerted himself in a hot enclosed space and ended up feeling faint and suffering from a headache—two early signs of heat stroke. He wandered into Betty’s bedroom, fell onto her bed, and never got up again. “A person who has suffered one heat stroke is at increased risk for another,” says Dr. Lisa Leon, an expert in hyperthermia at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. “Patients experience multi-organ dysfunction during the hours, days, and weeks of recovery, which increases risk for long-term disability and death.”
Of the minor drugs in Bruce’s stomach on July 20, neither cannabis nor meprobamate is known to cause cerebral edema. The only possible suspect is aspirin. The Mayo Clinic lists the potential reactions to aspirin as “hives, itchy skin, runny nose, red eyes, swelling of lips, tongue or face, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis—a rare, life-threatening allergic reaction.” More commonly caused by bee stings and peanut allergies, anaphylaxis can result in fatal cerebral edema. When Professor Teare and Dr. Lycette were theorizing about hypersensitivity to aspirin, they were talking about anaphylactic shock.
But anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, is almost always accompanied by other symptoms—an enflamed trachea, neck, tongue, and lips, as well as hives and red itchy skin in and around the mouth. In fatal cases, the swelling of the throat blocks the airway resulting in asphyxia and cerebral edema. The paramedics and doctors who treated Bruce the night of July 20 did not find any inflammation of Bruce’s tongue or throat. Nor did the coroner, Dr. Lycette, during the autopsy. Bruce Lee was a hard-core martial artist who took aspirin for pain most of his adult life. While it is possible he suddenly developed a life-threatening allergy to aspirin at the age of thirty-two, the odds that he died from anaphylactic shock without any of the associated symptoms are vanishingly small.
Compared to aspirin allergies, heat stroke is a far more common killer of young athletic men. It is the third most common cause of sudden death in sports activities and rises to first during the hottest months of summer. In the United States alone, an average of three high school and college football players die every year of heat stroke. Korey Stringer, a twenty-seven-year-old professional football player, collapsed on a Minnesota Vikings practice field on a sweltering July afternoon in 2001. His death prompted immediate changes regarding heat stroke prevention throughout the NFL. There was even less awareness of hyperthermia’s dangers in 1973 than 2001. Even now proper treatment is not known by every physician.
While it is impossible to know for certain what caused Lee’s death, hyperthermia is the most likely explanation. If it was heat stroke, then Bruce Lee died doing what he loved most—performing kung fu in front of an appreciative audience.
From the moment he was cast in his first movie as a two-month-old, Bruce Lee spent his time on this earth entertaining and educating others. With an intensity rarely seen before or since, Never Sits Still squeezed an entire lifetime’s worth of accomplishments into thirty-two short years. His death was not a tragedy, because his life was a triumph. “Even though I, Bruce Lee, may die someday without fulfilling all of my ambitions, I feel no sorrow,” he told a Hong Kong reporter in 1972 as if anticipating his own eulogy. “I did what I wanted to do. What I’ve done, I’ve done with sincerity sincerity and to the best of my ability. You can’t expect much more from life.”
Polly, Matthew. Bruce Lee: A Life (p. 475). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
"All type of knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge"