A special thank you to NetGallery for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I wanted to read Laskas' book because I have children in competitive contact sports. My boys wear helmets. As parents, we spend a lot of money and research on said helmets to ensure we are protecting our kids. This is not the case.
"Then again, unlike boxers, football players wear helmets, good protection for the skull. So it would be reasonable to think that the brain would be spared damaging impact. But plenty of people know better. Anybody who knew anything about the anatomy of the head knew better. It was a simple matter of physics. The brain floats, is suspended in a kind of thick jelly inside the skull. If you hit the head hard enough, that brain is going to move, no matter what kind of protection you put around the skull. A helmet protects the skull. A helmet can't keep the brain from sloshing around in that skull. If you hit your head hard enough, the brain goes bashing against the walls of the skull. Bennet had seen plenty of cases of brains destroyed despite helmets. People in motorcycle crashes wore helmets. On the surface is nothing, but you open the skull and the brain is mush."
I don't know much about American football, and neither did Dr. Omalu, but football wasn't the catalyst for wanting to study the brain of Iron Mike Webster who died from a heart attack at the age of 50. Webster, one of the greats of the game, went from living the dream as a professional athlete, to forgetting how to live. He tried to glue his teeth back into his mouth, and had to taser himself into unconsciousness to get some sleep. Omalu suspected that Webster's crazy behaviour was as a result of an underlying brain disease and set out to prove just this.
This story is absolutely riveting and amazing. I enjoyed reading about Omalu's background and growing up in Nigeria, as well as the relationship between Omalu and Wecht (a forensic pathologist who has been involved with any and all high-profile cases, including being on the panel that supported the two bullet theory). Laskas is a wonderful and detailed writer and I would highly recommend this book.