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Concussion
2015
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Medical
Sports
Topics
Doctors
Pathology
Brain (Concussion)
Brain injuries
Football players
Sports injuries
Mental illness
National Football League (NFL)
Sports
Setting
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
Time Period
2002 -- 21st century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Laskas first wrote about Pittsburgh-based forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu in a 2009 GQ article, and here has expanded the story of Omalu's battle with the NFL over football-related brain injuries. Omalu discovered a disease he named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in 2002, while studying the brain of deceased Hall of Famer Mike Webster. Laskas tells Omalu's life story on a personal basis, even incorporating "passages of introspection" by Omalu to flesh out the re-created scenes for dramatic effect. The author draws a parallel between the governmental corruption that drove Omalu from his native Nigeria to the NFL's response to his discovery; unfortunately, she gives a pass to the grandstanders in the U.S. Congress trying to use the situation to personal political advantage. Although the NFL has attempted to belittle Omalu's work, his publication record in scientific journals gives him clear provenance and authority on the issue. The extent of the league's complicity and prior knowledge of CTE will continue to be studied by lawyers, while other factors potentially related to CTE will be examined by medical researchers in this ongoing story. VERDICT This book spins a provocative tale that is somewhat marred by an overemphasis on peripheral issues related to the trial of Omalu's boss Cyril Wecht, yet it will attract a large audience owing to the upcoming film Concussion starring Will Smith. © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Part medical whodunit and part biography, this arresting account by Laska (Hidden America) introduces Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who reluctantly unravels a medical threat that challenges the future of the National Football League. In 2002, Omalu, a forensic neuropathologist working for the Allegheny County coroner's office, performs an autopsy on former NFL great Mike Webster, who exhibited bizarre behavior and dementia, and concludes that the cause was chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a debilitating brain disease, caused by concussions sustained during football games. Omalu stirs up a hornet's nest when he testifies about these conclusions in court. At times, Laskas switches the focus to the Nigerian doctor's overly romanticized views of America or his painful battle with depression, but the book mostly covers his detailed legal wrangling with the NFL monopoly over long-term CTE symptoms and acceptable compensation. The deck is stacked again against any football player taking savage hits in the game, even with the protective helmet, according to Omalu: "On the surface is nothing, but you open the skull and the brain is mush." Some NFL officials and gridiron vets think the CTE legal aftermath has weakened football's muscular appeal, but Laskas expertly makes the case for valuing the health of football players over the image of the league, justifying the large cash settlement for damage. This important book is based on a 2009 article Laskas wrote for GQ, as is a forthcoming film. Agent: Elyse Cheney, Elyse Cheney Literary. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * The riveting, unlikely story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who first identified CTE in professional football players, a discovery that challenges the existence of America's favorite sport and puts Omalu in the crosshairs of football's most powerful corporation: the NFL <br> <br> Jeanne Marie Laskas first met the young forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu in 2009, while reporting a story for GQ that would go on to inspire the movie Concussion . Omalu told her about a day in September 2002, when, in a dingy morgue in downtown Pittsburgh, he picked up a scalpel and made a discovery that would rattle America in ways he'd never intended. Omalu was new to America, chasing the dream, a deeply spiritual man escaping the wounds of civil war in Nigeria. The body on the slab in front of him belonged to a fifty-year-old named Mike Webster, aka "Iron Mike," a Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the greatest ever to play the game. After retiring in 1990, Webster had suffered a dizzyingly steep decline. Toward the end of his life, he was living out of his van, tasering himself to relieve his chronic pain, and fixing his rotting teeth with Super Glue. How did this happen?, Omalu asked himself. How did a young man like Mike Webster end up like this? The search for answers would change Omalu's life forever and put him in the crosshairs of one of the most powerful corporations in America: the National Football League. What Omalu discovered in Webster's brain--proof that Iron Mike's mental deterioration was no accident but a disease caused by blows to the head that could affect everyone playing the game--was the one truth the NFL wanted to ignore.<br> <br> Taut, gripping, and gorgeously told, Concussion is the stirring story of one unlikely man's decision to stand up to a multibillion-dollar colossus, and to tell the world the truth.<br> <br> Praise for Concussion <br> <br> "A gripping medical mystery and a dazzling portrait of the young scientist no one wanted to listen to . . . a fabulous, essential read." --Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks <br> <br> "The story of Dr. Bennet Omalu's battle against the NFL is classic David and Goliath stuff, and Jeanne Marie Laskas--one of my favorite writers on earth--makes it as exciting as any great courtroom or gridiron drama. A riveting, powerful human tale--and a master class on how to tell a story." --Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit <br> <br> "Bennet Omalu forced football to reckon with head trauma. The NFL doesn't want you to hear his story, but Jeanne Marie Laskas makes it unforgettable. This book is gripping, eye-opening, and full of heart." --Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones
Table of Contents
Chapter 1Obscurityp. 3
Chapter 2Runningp. 17
Chapter 3Spiralp. 39
Chapter 4Americap. 52
Chapter 5Fancyp. 68
Chapter 6The Morguep. 86
Chapter 7Discoveryp. 107
Chapter 8Belongingp. 130
Chapter 9Attackp. 149
Chapter 10Scramblep. 171
Chapter 11Oddballp. 187
Chapter 12Comfort Zonep. 204
Chapter 13Wordp. 228
Chapter 14Daddyp. 247
Acknowledgmentsp. 267
Author's Notep. 271
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