Occasionally breathless and clunky, this is a vivid and inspiring read all the same, sure to find a large audience among...

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THE KID WHO CLIMBED EVEREST

THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF A 23-YEAR-OLD’S SUMMIT OF MT. EVEREST

Another stone added to the growing mountain of Everest adventures.

Newcomer Grylls was serving in the British army in 1996 when he suffered a parachuting accident that left him with three broken vertebrae and a badly bruised spinal cord. In the months of physical therapy that followed, this avid climber rekindled a childhood dream to climb the world’s tallest peak—a feat that very few mountaineers younger than 30 have ever managed to pull off. “Everest is no place to prove yourself,” the author admits. “The likelihood of reaching the summit is so slim that you’re inevitably setting yourself up to be disappointed.” Even so, he talked his way into a slot on a 1998 British expedition led by a tough-as-nails ex-Marine commando who urged his teammates through the icy, windswept hells that Grylls describes quite effectively. For instance, he tells us that one area of Everest, the Icefalls, is so named because great spears of ice break off the sun-warmed slope in mid-afternoon, sharp and heavy enough to kill anyone standing “deep within the jaws of the overhang”; his account of the party’s race across the region is a fine set piece that doesn’t compare at all badly to the best Everest narratives. Against all odds, the author endured the Icefalls, the Lhotse Face, and other challenges the mountain threw up along the way, eventually arriving at the aptly named Death Zone, where, hyperventilating, he communed with the body of Rob Hall (whose death stands at the dramatic heart of Jon Krakauer’s 1997 account, Into Thin Air) and then took the summit—all at the tender age of 23.

Occasionally breathless and clunky, this is a vivid and inspiring read all the same, sure to find a large audience among outdoor-adventure and climbing buffs.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58574-250-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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