A contender for Least Interesting Book of the Year.

READ REVIEW

THE SEVENTH AT ST. ANDREWS

HOW SCOTSMAN DAVID MCLAY KIDD AND HIS RAGTAG BAND BUILT THE FIRST NEW COURSE ON GOLF’S HOLY SOIL IN NEARLY A CENTURY

Former Golf magazine senior writer Gummer details—and details and details—architect David McLay Kidd’s creation of the seventh golf course at Scotland’s legendary St. Andrews.

The decision by the St. Andrews Links Trust to create a new course on their grounds, the first such addition in nearly a century, was significant news in the golf world and would prove to be a feather in the cap of the designer who secured the job. Kidd, a golf-course architect with an impressive reputation, learned about the opportunity, put his name in the hat of possible designers, conducted a couple of interviews, solicited a bid and after being selected for the job created an 18-hole golf course in roughly the time he was allotted. There isn’t much excitement or surprise in this tale, as Gummer relates the importance of drainage to golf-course design and explains why not all types of sand are the same. He paints Kidd and his employees as a crew of badass pirates composed of volatile personalities that threatened to explode, but the biggest conflagration occurred when a staff member lost interest in his work and offered his resignation…which Kidd accepted. Other “crises,” such as the discovery of some archaeological artifacts that temporarily halted work and an employee who appeared to be in over his head, were dealt with quickly and without much drama—which allows many more pages to be devoted to budget examinations and schedule analyses. Rather than a dynamic and heroic figure, Kidd often seems small and insecure. Gummer’s many attempts to give his story Larger Significance are generally embarrassing.

A contender for Least Interesting Book of the Year.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-592-40322-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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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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