FOURTH AND LONG: The Kent Waldrep Story by Kent & Susan Malone Waldrep

FOURTH AND LONG: The Kent Waldrep Story

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An athlete's too sketchy account of his struggle against paralysis. Waldrep was playing football for Texas Christian University in 1974 when his neck was broken, an accident that changed his life forever. His story opens on the day of that game and ends in 1990, with Waldrep at the White House watching President Bush sign the Americans with Disabilities Act, legislation which the former athlete had helped to draft. Assisted by journalist Malone, Waldrep recalls his immediate hospitalization, his dreary time at a rehab center, where he was assured that he would never walk again, and his return home, where his anger over the hopeless attitudes he encountered at the rehab center evolved into determination to do something to help fellow victims of paralysis. On learning that Soviet medicine offered some hope, he went there for treatment in 1978, and although his progress was apparently minimal, the experience spurred Waldrep to set up a foundation to fund research into a cure for paralysis. The ups and downs of the foundation and the in-fighting that eventually led to Waldrep's departure from it are the subject of the books's final, rather self-serving chapters. This story ought to be inspiring, for the author's determination is remarkable and his goal of helping others admirable. Despite good raw material--a hero who's metaphorically bloody but unbowed, several romances that don't pan out and one that does, and villains galore, including nonsupportive university staff and hope-destroying doctors--the story seems to be missing its heart. In the end, one knows more about the poor quality of Russian food than about the quality of Waldrep's life. Wait for a TV version--this is a natural for a docudrama.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
Page count: 204pp
Publisher: Crossroad