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Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of the Man Who Dared to See Paperback – August 19, 2008


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Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of the Man Who Dared to See + Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812973682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812973686
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Blinded in a childhood accident, Mike May never hesitated to try anything—driving a motorcycle, hiking alone in the woods, downhill skiing—until the day, when May was 46, an ophthalmologist told him a new stem-cell and cornea transplant could restore his vision. As Esquire contributing editor Kurson (Shadow Divers) relates, the decision to have the surgery wasn't easy. May, always a "pioneer in his heart," had never really felt he was missing anything in life. The surgery also had a few risks: the restoration of sight might only be temporary; the immunosuppressive drug was highly toxic; May might never adjust to the changes having sight would cause. Previously, patients had become depressed, their lives ruined because, while it might seem strange to sighted people, these patients found that the idea of vision was better than the reality. May went forward, only to find that, even though his eye was now perfect, his brain had forgotten how to process visual input. Fascinated by colors and patterns, he had difficulty discerning facial features, letters, even men from women. How May adjusts to his medical miracle, living with the disappointments as well as the joys, makes for a remarkable story of courage and endurance.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Robert Kurson's Shadow Divers (**** Sept/Oct 2004), a tale of a deadly search for a German U-boat off the coast of New Jersey, became an instant classic among adventure readers who enjoy well-told, high-octane nonfiction. In Crashing Through, the author finds an equally compelling subject. Kurson's journalistic instincts are strong, and tight writing and thorough research reflect his journalist background. The profile of Mike May is generally engaging-particularly in describing the difficult transition to the sighted world and what happens when May is ripped out of his comfort zone. However, readers should know that the story of May's personal struggles takes a back seat to Kurson's lucid exploration of the brain's circuitry and fascinating details of how we can have vision without really seeing.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Robert Kurson is a freelance journalist who writes for Esquire. He is writing this book with cooperation from Chatterton and Kohler, and from the sole survivor of the U-boat.

Customer Reviews

I read Kurson's first book Shadow Divers and told you about it in an online review.
G. Reid
He gives intimate details of the world of the blind, and even more intimate looks into Mike May's journey back to sight.
Eric Wilson
Robert Kurson writes so well that you don't want to put his books down once you've started reading them!
BILLIE LECRONE

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on July 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Robert Kurson swept me away with "Shadow Divers," his rousing, true-life WWII treasure hunt. He introduced us to real people with foibles and strengths; he gave appropriate, often hair-raising details; and he kept in focus the human element of relationships and desire.

"Crashing Through" is a completely different type of story, and yet it captures those same elements--in much narrower focus. This time, Kurson leads us through the dramatic issues of sight, self-reliance, self-discovery, and the pleasures and pain of dreaming large. We find these things embodied in the story of Mike May, a man blinded at age three by a chemical burn. Mike has lived life on the edge, "crashing through" every obstacle in his desire to enjoy each day. His well-balanced, mostly normal life, is endangered by an exciting new opportunity: the chance to see again.

The offer is not risk-free. Mike and his supportive wife, Jennifer, face emotional and health risks as he begins a harrowing journey back to the world of the sighted. The marriage they have built together for over a decade will be knocked off balance. Will he lose his friends and credibility within circles of the blind? Could the overwhelming responsibility of sight become a millstone around Mike's neck? What if his business can't withstand his temporary absences? Even more foundational: Will Mike May discover he is not who he thought he was, who he's proclaimed himself to be?

With inimitable touch, Kurson takes us through this scientific, emotional, and thoroughly fascinating story. He gives intimate details of the world of the blind, and even more intimate looks into Mike May's journey back to sight. There are moments of heartache and fear, as well as scenes of understated rapture.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By JenRink on June 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is quite simply the most amazing book I have read in years. From a purely superficial perspective, the book is a great read, it is intense, griping and entertaining. But "Crashing Through" is more like an onion than a book. Though I just read and finished it over the last three days I can see myself reading this book many, many more times in the future and drawing fresh insights from it. Among the layers:

It is a fascinating exploration into the science and pyschology of vision, extremely complicated material that I felt was delivered masterfully in layman's terms without oversimplifying the material, and with a variety of illustrations to further explain complicated processes.

Another reader commented that it is a sort of self-help book and I agree, one can certainly see the motivational speaker at work in many parts of the book. I don't mean that as a detraction though, on the contrary I found the way that Mike May has quite literally "crashed through" life to be rather challenging to me personally.

The moral, ethical, and spiritual facets of blindness, vision, and vision restoration are extremely engaging. Normally I just tear through books, but this one took me some time to finish because I had to stop frequently to think about the words on the page, not to comprehend them but to really contemplate the message. Beyond the mechanics of vision, what does it mean to truly "see" -- and which is more valuable? Vison or "seeing."

Last, as another reviewer also mentioned, it's a great parenting book...and I'd add marriage manual to that as well.

I highly recommend this book, I think it would be great for a book club as there is no shortage of discussion topics.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on June 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed the writing in this story of a blind man who is given the chance to see. The first part of the book introduces the life of Mike May, the fellow who has lived without vision since childhood. It is, by any reckoning a good life. The second part of the book explores the feelings he and his family go through at the prospect of him being given vision. The last part of the book explores his experience of his new sense.

I actually cried a few times, so well was May's reaction to his newfound sight described. I had to put the book down and take a break from reading. Much of the book is, though emotional, softer and less striking. That is what I found so impressive about Robert Kurson, he built up the foundation of the story, then gave it a payoff with his detailed descriptions of what it was like to see. Amazing stuff.

There is a little bit of information about research into visual perception, a subject which as always interested me, but Kurson avoided the mistake of clouding the drama of his story by over-explaining the science.

Very well done.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By awordforthat on September 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There are few books that can claim more fascinating heroes than does Crashing Through. Blinded by a chemical explosion at age three, Mike May "crashes through" life (sometimes literally!) with breathtaking recklessness until a cutting-edge surgery restores his vision decades later. Blind, Mike lives life with more gusto and success than the majority of sighted people. He skis, invents, travels, loves, and learns with the best of them, in locales as exotic as Ghana as dangerous as a self-built radio tower, and as familiar as the laid-back university setting at UC Santa Cruz. This is a man who forcefully rejected the restrictions of blindness and became a Renaissance man to be reckoned with. So far, so good; we all love a good underdog story.

Disappointingly, however, the execution falters. The narrative is choppy and ham-handed at points, with repetitive exposition and stilted, fabricated dialogue. Kurson hero-worships Mike, and the constant emphasis on Mike's myriad risks and successes feels a little like sitting in a long church service. We should all be happy with what we have, Kurson seems to be saying. Just look at Mike. That's a valid reason to write a book, but it detracts from Mike's situation, which is what we're really interested in. Exactly what does he do to overcome all these challenges? Kurson does tell us, but buries it all among too many accolades.

The last few chapters of the book, arguably the best written, are devoted to the problems Mike has after his surgery. Kurson allows us a glimpse of the myriad tests that Mike underwent to determine the extent of the neurological deficiencies he suffers (a result of going blind at such an early age).
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