A captivating narrative guidebook that will inspire readers to test their own limits, on the trail and off.

READ REVIEW

THE PURSUIT OF ENDURANCE

HARNESSING THE RECORD-BREAKING POWER OF STRENGTH AND RESILIENCE

An instructive exploration of endurance, in sports and in life, from a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

Before hiking the Appalachian Trail for the first time in 2005, Davis (Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph, 2013, etc.) took a class taught by Warren Doyle, a renowned long-distance hiker and legendary trail record-setter. He was the first person to suggest that the author attempt a trail record for the fastest known time (FKT) on the Appalachian Trail; in 2008, she did just that. Davis set the unofficial record for the FKT on the A.T. by a woman, completing the 2,181-mile journey in under 58 days. Still not completely satisfied with her accomplishment, Davis headed back to the trail three years later, this time to set the FKT by anyone, male or female. She finished in under 47 days, a record-setting achievement that she explores throughout this enlightening analysis of endurance. With humor and the wisdom of a seasoned adventurer, Davis breaks down the secrets to harnessing the kind of personal strength and perseverance it takes to not only set records on the trail, but lead life to the fullest off it. The author gives equal weight to the nitty-gritty details of long-distance trail-hiking techniques and the intense mental and spiritual preparation involved in record-breaking, and she offers several spellbinding scenes from her famous treks. Throughout, Davis uses science, psychology, history, hiking methodologies, and her own personal experience to craft a fascinating examination of the human spirit. The author’s natural storytelling ability and a charming cast of characters in the form of spirited hiking mentors make the pages fly in this accessible handbook, which reads less like a step-by-step instruction manual and more like an empowering blueprint to building one’s own endurance.

A captivating narrative guidebook that will inspire readers to test their own limits, on the trail and off.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2189-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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