Love, Zac: Small-Town Football and the Life and Death of an American Boy (Hardcover)
"Love, Zac is not just a vital contribution to the national conversation about traumatic brain injury in athletes, it’s so beautifully written it belongs on the shelf alongside classic works of literary journalism.” —Jeanne Marie Laskas, New York Times bestselling author of Concussion
Zac Easter could be your neighbor, your classmate, your son.
In December 2015, Zac Easter, a twenty-four-year-old from small-town Iowa, decided to take his own life rather than continue his losing battle against the traumatic brain injuries he had sustained as a no-holds-barred high school football player.
For this deeply reported and powerfully moving true story, award-winning writer Reid Forgrave was given access to Zac’s own diaries and was able to speak with Zac’s family, friends, and coaches. He explores Zac’s tight-knit, football-obsessed Midwestern community; he interviews leading brain scientists, psychologists, and sports historians; and he takes a deep dive into the triumphs and sins of the sports entertainment industry.
Forgrave shows us how football mirrors America, from the fighting spirit the game has helped inscribe in our national character to the side effects of the traditional notions of manhood that it affirms. But above all, Love, Zac is a warning to parents and those entrusted with the care of our kids not to ignore concussions and warning signs of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). For parents struggling to decide whether to allow their kids to play football, this eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and ultimately inspiring story may be one of the most important books they will read.
About the Author
Reid Forgrave writes about sports and other topics for GQ, the New York Times Magazine, and Mother Jones, among other publications. He has covered the NFL and college football for FoxSports.com and CBS Sports, and he currently writes for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. The article in which he first wrote about Zac Easter is included in Best American Sports Writing 2018 . A past life found him working at the Des Moines Register in Iowa, where he wrote long-form narrative journalism and covered the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Forgrave lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons. Love, Zac is his first book.
“An intelligent, provocative tale that will give pause to many parents of football players at any level.”
"What an accomplishment. Brimming with compassion and insight, Reid Forgrave has written an artful and intimate portrait of a former high school football star that travels ambitiously into themes of masculinity, suffering, and the nature of a national obsession. Love, Zac is not just a vital contribution to the national conversation about traumatic brain injury in athletes, it’s so beautifully written it belongs on the shelf alongside classic works of literary journalism.
—Jeanne Marie Laskas, New York Times bestselling author of Concussion
“A tragic, moving story that will linger with readers of sports and biographies in general.”
– Library Journal
“A monumental achievement of deep reporting and expert storytelling. One question echoes from every page of this book: What happened to Zac Easter? In seeking the answers, Reid Forgrave has written a detective story, a love story, and a parable about football, pain and the consequences of the bedrock version of American masculinity.”
—Michael Sokolove, author of The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino and Drama High
“An in-depth exploration not only of football and its risks, but of the empty-calorie culture into which we are driving young men. It will leave you unable to ever watch a football game—at any level—the same way again.”
—Brian Alexander, author of Glass House