I just finished reading the book Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas today, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a human story. It’s a courtroom drama. It’s a science lecture. It’s a search for answers. Bust most of all, it’s about a man’s journey and his willingness to stand up to the NFL and tell the truth.
Calling this book a page-turner is an understatement. I truly couldn’t put it down. At times I felt like a spectator sitting in a courtroom watching events unfold or a fan in a stadium cheering for my favorite player/team. Other times I felt like I was sitting at the kitchen table across from forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu as he was examining slides of brain tissue from deceased football players. His journey from a small village in Nigeria to the United States, covering both coasts and in between, is gripping. Laskas clearly details his decision to study medicine and his motivation to move to the US. And how did he make one of the most significant medical discoveries in a downtown Pittsburgh morgue? And what impacts would his findings have? Laskas does a superb job in the telling of the story, often using Omalu’s direct quotes or sharing events and conversations from his point of view. This book very much reminded me of The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York.
Mentorship, science, politics, money, the American dream, egos, truth, mystery, racism, cover ups, and happiness. They’re all there. For me, Omalu’s actions are a reminder that one person (even on the sidelines) can make a big difference. In some ways, Dr. Bennet Omalu reminds me of the character Spok from the Star Trek television series and movies. Remember what Spok said in Star Trek II? “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” I strongly encourage you to read Concussion. You’ll be in for the ride of your life. And in the end, Dr. Omalu is right. Dead men do tell tales.