by Jeanne Marie Laskas
I didn’t know what to expect from this book. After all, how often does a book and a movie come out at the same time. Maybe a Star Wars movie and a novelization of the film, but that isn’t the usual timeframe. Now I understand. The movie is based on an article that Ms. Laskas wrote for GQ magazine. The article was titled “Game Brain”. It was published in 2009. Here is a link to the article on GQ.com, Game Brain.
Ms. Laskas expanded that article, and made it into the story of the man, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered that there was something seriously wrong with the brain of a star NFL football player, Mike Webster. This book, Concussion, is more than just a summary of evidence of the brain damage that occurs to professional football players. It is the story of one mans struggle to be heard, when one of the most powerful organizations in the United States, the NFL, wanted to bury what he had found.
Ms. Laskas puts Dr. Omalu’s discoveries into perspective. She tells the story of his life, starting in Nigeria, coming to America, and then what happened to him once the NFL wanted to discredit him. She fills the story with direct quotes from Dr. Omalu. But she tells the story behind the quotes. She lets you see the struggles, and feel the pain, and the excitement that his discoveries bring to his life. He feels that he has heard “Iron Mike” talk to him, and needs to tell the world what he said. We all need to listen to this story.
This is an important story that crosses the boundaries of American Professional Football. After reading this book, I wonder if athletes in other sports are suffering from the same sorts of brain damages. Do soccer players do damage when they use their heads to knock the ball into a net. What about rugby and hockey players? Then there are the obvious sports of boxing, wrestling, and MMA fighters. Are these people losing their brain functions? Do they have trouble remembering? Do they have personality changes? Is this what they signed up for? Is sport that important?
I give Concussion 5 Stars out of 5, and Two Big Thumbs Up! If you know anyone who plays football, soccer, hockey or any other sport that may cause head trauma, you need to read this book. If you don’t, well read it anyway.
I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Will Smith, Concussion is the riveting, unlikely story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who made one of the most significant medical discoveries of the twenty-first century, 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.
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.
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.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1 edition
(November 24, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
About the Author
Jeanne Marie Laskas is the author of seven books, including Concussion, Hidden America, and The Exact Same Moon. Her writing has appeared in GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. Laskas serves as director of The Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches creative writing, and she lives on a horse farm in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.