Occasionally (and understandably) macho in tone, but full of high drama in low places. (1 map, 50 b&w photographs)

READ REVIEW

DEEP DESCENT

ADVENTURE AND DEATH DIVING THE ANDREA DORIA

A freelance journalist and skilled diver chronicles the lives and deaths of those who have explored the wreck of the Andrea Doria.

In July 1956, the luxury liner Andrea Doria, inbound from Italy, collided in the fog south of Nantucket Island with an outbound Swedish liner Stockholm, which chugged back into port carrying hundreds of survivors. Andrea Doria, with 51 of her 1,706 passengers dead, headed for the bottom, 235 feet below, where for the past half-century she has lain as a kind of Holy Grail for scuba divers. McMurray claims a kind of mystical attachment to the wreck: “I was destined to dive the Doria,” he declares. He remembers seeing the vessel in his boyhood, and as he grew older he became a dedicated, adventurous diver. When he departed for his first descent to Doria—a highly technical, challenging, and expensive dive dubbed the “Mount Everest of wreck diving”—his wife said simply: “ ‘Don’t get killed, asshole.’ ” He didn’t, but quite a few others did. After an opening chapter relating the 1985 death of diver John Ormsby, McMurray charts the history of the Andrea Doria before returning to sketch his diving autobiography. From then on (his bona fides established), he fashions a virtual Book of the Dead as he tells the stories of the dozen divers who have perished at the site, including an incredible five in one season (1998–99). (In questionable taste are the superfluous photographs of recoveries—there are three alone of the dead Ormsby.) Some succumbed to what is called “china fever”—the passion to acquire dinnerware with the Doria logo—and in their excitement they jettisoned their prudence. Others were unlucky, some unhealthy, some careless—maybe even stupid. McMurray knows his stuff, and the portraits of the various (and often competing) personalities are clear and compelling. His conclusion, however, is a bit anticlimactic: “There are no easy answers. . . . Shit happens.”

Occasionally (and understandably) macho in tone, but full of high drama in low places. (1 map, 50 b&w photographs)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7434-0062-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more