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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blind, But Now I See
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...
Published on July 5, 2007 by Eric Wilson

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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The difference between style and content
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...
Published on September 8, 2007 by awordforthat


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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blind, But Now I See, July 5, 2007
By 
Eric Wilson "author" (Nashville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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. The book's only disappointing, somewhat ironic, element is the lack of photos. I would've loved to see these people in color, to see those whose lives were changed.

With that caveat aside, I cannot recommend the book highly enough. Kurson is a master at allowing those readers unfamiliar and "blind" to a certain subject to "see" the heart and mind behind it in blazing color. Mike May dared to see, and Kurson dared to give us the details.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Remarkable, Unbelievably Inspiring..., June 1, 2007
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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. I have several friends who are teachers and I think this book would be great to "read alound" to a class (though there is one post-vision-restoration-romance-encounter...just one chapter they'd better skip, but for older teens I don't think even that would be a problem.) I'll certainly read it to my kids someday. And though I never buy people books because I don't want to impose my taste on anybody, in this case I will definitely make an exception.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving story of a life changing event..., June 6, 2007
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 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The difference between style and content, September 8, 2007
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). Here, finally, there is science, a definite plot to follow, rather than just tracing out Mike's life in a strung-out series of anecdotes.

A minor quibble: Kurson insists on referring to Mike as "May" throughout the book. Every other character is referenced by a first name or a title; the discrepancy is curious as well as distracting.

On the whole, Crashing Through manages to convey the exuberance and eagerness with which Mike May tackled his life, both while blind and sighted. The story comes through, although perhaps a more skilled biographer would have produced a cleaner narrative. Probably not worth going out and buying new. With its optimistic message, simple language, and straightforward story, it's not a book to really sink your teeth into, but if you're looking for a quick mood booster, it's a good pick at your local used bookshop.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling Wonderful True Story Telling/The Science Of Vision, May 22, 2007
By 
G. Reid (Roseland, NJ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When you read this book you will be amazed. Vision is far more than a functioning eye - It is very complex. This is Kurson's 2nd book. Both of his books are thrilling true stories. I read this book in one sitting which I can only do if a book is truly compelling.

I read Kurson's first book Shadow Divers and told you about it in an online review. It was such a great book.

Now, Kurson is out with his 2nd book and it is just terrific. It took me about 6 hours to read the book, but I am a slow reader. However, I didn't want to miss any of the description because it is so vivid. I loved the drama & mystery in the story, Mike's courage and the science of vision. Squeeze it into your busy schedule. My guess is that you will love the book.

Crashing Through is beautifully written and thrillingly told. The story told is a journey of suspense, daring, romance, and insight into the mysteries of vision and the brain.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blessing of Vision, June 17, 2007
This is the amazing story of an intrepid and incredibly positive entrepreneur who lost his vision by accident at age three and 40 years later was offered a slight possibility of regaining his sight. Kurson does an exceptional job of describing Mike May's view of the world as a blind man, and later as a person with some vision. Unlike many blind people, Mike May plunges into life with elan and little fear. Nothing can stop him and very little frightens him. His wife, Jennifer, is one of the most supportive wives I have come across in print. Kurson describes her as an immensely caring, patient and considerate spouse. Apart from reading about two v. strong people, I also enjoyed learning about the different levels of vision - the 'simpler' color and motion-detecting aspects of vision which are developed in the first year of life and which May excelled at, and the more complex face-recognition, depth-recognition aspect of vision, which May struggles with. May being May, once he decides to get back in the driver's seat, develops his own unique method of dealing with his inability to recognize faces. While 'Crashing Through' was another Kurson hit, 'Shadow Divers' is a more enthralling book as it deals with the intersection of tragedies of different generations and men pursuing different activities. 'Crashing Through' is the struggle of one man and his family with the absence and presence of vision; 'Shadow Divers' overlays the tragic ending of a whole group of young German WWII submarine fighters with the death of a passionate, but cocky, father-and-son team of deep water divers. I hope Kurson's next book will address the challenges of a wider range of people. All in all, the hero of 'Crashing Through' is an inspiration. This book is a keeper on family bookshelves across the world.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read to Learn About Vision, July 7, 2007
I have spent the last month buying and giving away copies of Crashing Through. I found it fascinating, first to read about Mike May and think about the decisions he made in his life to bring him to this "adventure". Second, to learn about the critical link between what the eyes 'see' and what your own knowledge base is to interpreting what you see. I work with students who are blind, and one powerful example for me that was given in the book was probably glossed over by many: what is a 'quarter moon'? After reading about Mike's notion, I made sure to talk about and use some realia to demonstrate that a 'quarter moon' isn't like a 'slice of pie' shape.
If you don't have interest in reading the entire book, which I think would be a shame, make sure to read Chapter 14. Kurson describes the importance of having a knowledge base to understand exactly what one is seeing. Every person who works with or knows someone who is blind should have this book on a "must read" list. Thank you, Mr. Kurson, for a wonderful book, and thank you, Mike May, for being willing to share your "vision" of the world.
[...]
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, May 16, 2007
I read Crashing Through in two sittings, I could not put it down. Not only is it an adventure story, human interest story, love story, and humorous book but it taught me a lot about the process of seeing. I loved it and have recommended it to all my friends.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A self help manual masked in a great adventure., May 22, 2007
I was truly riveted by the story of Mike May. Since I finished it, I've reflected on it more than a dozen times. Beyond the incredible story of this mans life, the message of challenging yourself to have a more fulfilling life is one I'll carry with me forever. The way Mike was raised, the way he's lived his life should be held up as an example for every man, woman and child. Life throws plenty of challenges to each of us, but this truly exceptional person took on a life altering, dangerous journey into an uncertain result - risking not only his slight light perception, but risking his very life.

Thank you Robert Kurson for telling a captivating, compelling story about a one in a million person. You cannot read this book and not be inspired to go out and challenge yourself to achieve and do more. It's just a great story that helps put life in perspective.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking risks to satisfy curiosity: A unique case, June 8, 2007
By 
BangorBill (Bangor, ME United States) - See all my reviews
This is the true story of Michael May, who was blinded by a chemical explosion at age 3. He grew up blind, and had remarkable accomplishments as a blind person. Then at age 46 (in 1999) he was offered the possibility of restored vision through a new surgical procedure involving a stem cell implant in his eye. He did not immediately grab the opportunity, since he was living a good, full life already. Would his blind friends think he was a sellout if he chose to see? There was no guarantee that the surgery would work, or that its effects would last, and there were serious risks from the drugs he would have to take following the surgery.

Ultimately May had the surgery, and the book describes the interesting combination of visual abilities and inabilities that he had afterward. It considers some of the personal psychological and philosophical issues involved, as well as the relevant neuroscience and cognitive psychology (the role of prior knowledge in visual perception). And yes, it does mention the famous experiments on kittens reared in darkness, as well as some of the very few prior cases of people whose vision was restored after many years of blindness (most of them suffered depression after their vision was restored). May himself participated in neuropsychological research at UCLA to take objective measures of his visual abilities and inabilities, along with fMRI brain scans (research that helped make a young scientist's career). The book is well-written and parts of it read like a novel, including May's relationship with his wife and his children and friends. What was May's top priority of things he wanted to see? Beautiful women! But he had to learn to recognize them.
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Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of the Man Who Dared to See
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