Atlantic Books, Author, Bill Borrows, Book review, Non-fiction, Publisher, Sport

‘The Hurricane: The Turbulent Life and Times of Alex Higgins’ by Bill Burrows


Non-Fiction – paperback; Atlantic Books; 368 pages; 2003.

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not a snooker fan. But I’ve been interested in Alex “Hurricane” Higgins after seeing a TV documentary on him several years ago. He seemed like an intriguing character; a sporting genius who did much to take snooker from the dingy pool halls into the realms of prime-time TV but who managed, somehow, to make a fortune and then blow it all on drink, drugs and women

Bill Borrows’ unauthorised book pulls no punches. The opening chapter has to be one of the best opening chapters of any biography I’ve ever read. It somehow captures the strange world that Higgins now inhabits, his cantankerous and difficult nature, and his sad demise from snooker legend to drunkard and drifter.

If you know nothing about snooker, the book is highly readable and, at times, just plain laugh-out-loud funny, as the following extract reveals:

He took off his hat, pulled a comb out of his pocket, dipped it in a glass of vodka and orange on the table, stood up and then combed his hair in the mirror over the fireplace. It is always the little things which give it away.

In many ways The Hurricane is a bit like a car crash: you know what’s coming but you can’t tear your eyes away. Higgins’ penchant for self-destruction, his flawed genius and his vulnerability make this a thoroughly entertaining, if somewhat sobering, read. My only quibble is that it lacks a glossary of snooker terms. But all in all, you’d be hard pressed to find a more interesting and jaw-dropping sporting biography.