Ably translated and edited by Australian climber Marshall, this will be of great interest to mountaineering buffs, and to...

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THE MOUNTAINS OF MY LIFE

Well-made compendium of adventures—and misadventures—on some of the world’s highest peaks.

In his day, Italian adventurer Bonatti was among the world’s best-known climbers, having established daring new routes on some of the most forbidding mountains of the Alps, many accomplished on solo climbs without oxygen. This collection, a volume in a series edited by Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air, 1997, etc.), gathers portions of several of Bonatti’s climbing memoirs, some of which were published in English editions but have long been out of print. As adventure writing, the memoirs are often standard fare: I came to a peak, I climbed it (or, in some cases, failed to climb it), I endured harrowing weather and the possibility of swan-diving into the abyss. Bonatti, however, is both more modest and more reflective than many of his contemporaries and successors (Reinhold Messner comes to mind); mountains, he writes, “are no more than the reflection of our spirit. Each peak is big or small, generous or mean, in proportion to what we offer it and what we ask of it.” Much of the book is given over to documents relating to Bonatti’s ill-fated climb of the Himalayan peak K2 in 1954, which, he notes with considerable understatement, “turned out to be more complicated and full of surprises than had been expected.” The junior member of an Italian national team, Bonatti was accused of abandoning his fellow climbers to scale K2 by himself and thus claim the honor of being the first to the summit; senior members charged that he had left them without sufficient oxygen, although two did make it to the top. Bonatti’s defense is vigorous and convincing, although it will doubtless not prove to be the final word in a controversy that has gone on for more than four decades.

Ably translated and edited by Australian climber Marshall, this will be of great interest to mountaineering buffs, and to armchair adventurers generally.

Pub Date: March 9, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-75640-X

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Modern Library

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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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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