A cautionary wake-up call about addressing a seemingly innocuous hit to the head with critical care.

THE CONCUSSION CRISIS

ANATOMY OF A SILENT EPIDEMIC

A comprehensive, anecdote-laden analysis of concussive head traumas.

MSNBC.com and New York Times health writer Carroll and former Newsday and Neurology Now reporter Rosner examine the concussion epidemic as a “major public health crisis,” noting that many of these cases go ignored only to reemerge in adulthood as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, as in the case of boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson. The authors reinforce their assertions with numerous case histories involving young athletes like teenaged football hopeful Dave Showalter, whose raw potential was stunted by the cumulative effects of repeated head injuries. More recognizable victims include NFL gridiron heroes Troy Aikman, Al Toon and Steve Young, and hockey stars Eddie Shore and Pat LaFontaine—all of whom were forced into early retirement as a result of concussive brain damage. Carroll and Rosner spotlight the expansive reach of the syndrome by including female athletes equally susceptible to the malady, car-accident victims, a 13-year-old football player who suffered catastrophic injuries from a solitary event, military soldiers in Iraq and the coaches and professional athletic leagues who, under pressure from players, parents and the industry at large, brush off these potentially life-threatening wounds. Though the personal profiles vastly outnumber chapters on remedies, they are consistently intriguing and alarming, accentuated by brain-injury particulars, scientific and medical statistical data and clinical studies by leading concussion experts like Dr. Robert Cantu, who, after two decades of research, published defined guidelines on the duration athletes should be sidelined after a concussive event to prevent permanent damage from “second-impact syndrome.” The authors argue that while positive change is underway with heightened awareness from NFL teams and elsewhere, the majority of concussions still go undiagnosed and that education remains the best defense against this “invisible injury with subtle symptoms that often seems to pass quickly.”

A cautionary wake-up call about addressing a seemingly innocuous hit to the head with critical care.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-2722-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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