The Frontline documentary based on this book was very thorough, and I don't feel like I would have missed anything substantial had I not read the book...moreThe Frontline documentary based on this book was very thorough, and I don't feel like I would have missed anything substantial had I not read the book -- the show was that well done. That said, the book is able to go into greater depth of backstories, explanations, and analysis. The book and the Frontline episode are definitely great companion pieces: both are intriguing and informative, working as standalone works or as a set. Neither makes you feel like you wasted your time with one or the other.
Based on the title, and knowing some about how the NFL handled the original "concussions=>brain damage" studies, you'd think that there are two major sides/players in this: 1) the NFL, which doesn't want to believe that football-related head injuries lead to long-term brain damage; and 2) the scientists who study football players' brains and see that the injuries *do* lead to brain damage. Just two sides? Haha! You're wrong! It's amazing HOW MANY different segments there are. It's not just NFL officials vs. doctors; it's NFL officials; NFL's doctors (the first round); the scientists who discovered the chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players; .... wait, the NFL officials ousted their first set of doctors, so now there's a second set; ... oh, and a different set of doctors who study the disease and, like the first set of scientists/doctors, still think the NFL is wrong, but they're warring against that first set that said the NFL was wrong. Oh my God! Not only is this book about science/the workings of the brain and about the clash between Big Business Football and the scientists who are trying to make a point about head trauma, but there's also the soap opera of one faction against another, so there are now around 6 different groups to keep track of! (And since the Frontline documentary wasn't three days long, it could only touch on this fact of competing groups, but the book can go so much more in-depth, which just leaves me really confused trying to keep track of all the groups, especially when they keep changing! Person A is part of group A; then group A ousts person A; then Person A goes to group B; on and on and on. It's a soap opera!) The only thing that's certain in this back-and-forth is that the NFL seems to be trying to cover up the notion that concussions lead to an increase in brain damage, and that NFL players tend to get a LOT of concussions. (Although, even the "NFL" changes, because they bring in or get rid of scientists who did or go on to be on the "concussions cause brain damage" side. Can't the whole saga just be one side vs. another side, with no back-and-forth and no third and fourth sides?!? Concussions bad. Brain damage bad. Fix it.)(less)
When I'd gotten a good chunk of the way into this book, I checked to see what other Goodreaders said about it. It seemed like everybody thought it was...moreWhen I'd gotten a good chunk of the way into this book, I checked to see what other Goodreaders said about it. It seemed like everybody thought it was wonderful, and I wondered if maybe I was on crack, because I didn't like it. Now that I've finished it, and still didn't find it any better, I looked at the reviews again and this time saw a few 2-star ratings. Okay, I'm not the only one. But when I looked at *why* people gave it 2 stars, I felt like a loner again -- most of the reviews that I quickly skimmed gave it 2 stars because it was *too basic*. Wha huh?!?
Okay, I've said it before, and I'll say it again (but not out loud, because this is something I rarely ever admit out loud): I am not the dumbest person in the world. I took math classes left and right in high school and college, and did decently in my chemistry and physics classes in high school and college. That said, most of this book went over my head. What is it with these math and science books that are supposed to be written for the "common person," yet totally boggle me?!? "I have written this book for those interested in baseball, not in the principles of physics..." Wow, fooled me. I have an interest in baseball, *some* in physics, and yet most of the explanations were too physicy for me. Grrr.
But I gave it two stars anyway because there was some good to the book. The content of the book kind of falls into three categories for me: 1) stuff that went over my head; 2) stuff that I understood; 3) stuff I was too bored by the writing to really pay attention to. The stuff that went over my head at least *sort of* explained some things to me, or at least I sometimes sort of felt like I kind of sort of maybe started to make some sense of what he was saying (sometimes). The stuff I understood was sometimes like "Duh" things, or things you just *get* from watching baseball intensely for long enough. And then there were things that I'm sure I understand, or I'm sure I would have learned, if the writing just weren't SO DRY at times. So, overall, not a book I'd recommend. I was generally either baffled or bored.
And then, here's my other main gripe with this book. Judging by the author's picture, he's a pretty old gentleman. Okay, that's fine. But this version of the book is the third edition, updated in 2002. Could you please use some examples of players who have played *after* the 1920s?!? I mean, granted, that's not *important* to the book, but come on. You can only cite players who most readers nowadays have only *heard* of? Those were the only worthwhile players ever?? Let's skim the index -- Okay, 74 names (and I'm not counting the multiple times some of them showed up, over and over), and only 13 of those played in the 1980s or 1990s. Now, I do realize that there was way more time before the 1980s, so there are more names to use; however, really, you can't use more examples from current(ish) times? Randy Johnson is mentioned twice; Greg Maddux, once; Mark McGwire a whopping five times; Sammy Sosa, twice; Nolan Ryan, once (what?!?), and Ken Griffey, Jr. -- none! Okay, so you loooooove Mark McGwire, but in a book about pitching and hitting and catching, you only refer to Greg Maddux + Randy Johnson + Nolan Ryan + Ken Griffey, Jr. a total of *four* times? In a book that's been revised in 1994 and 2002?!? And when you wrote "The old-timers [outfielders] prided themselves on their ability to turn and run to the long ball without looking back, but you seldom see that today" (153), you didn't even think to add something like "except players like Ken Griffey, Jr."? Yes, I know I'm a hometown girl, but c'mon, the rest of the world knows who Ken Griffey, Jr. is (was). Puh-leeze. If this book is ever updated again, add some new players. Baseball did not end in the '70s.(less)