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Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See [Kindle Edition]

Robert Kurson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.55
You Save: $4.45 (28%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In his critically acclaimed bestseller Shadow Divers, Robert Kurson explored the depths of history, friendship, and compulsion. Now Kurson returns with another thrilling adventure–the stunning true story of one man’s heroic odyssey from blindness into sight.

Mike May spent his life crashing through. Blinded at age three, he defied expectations by breaking world records in downhill speed skiing, joining the CIA, and becoming a successful inventor, entrepreneur, and family man. He had never yearned for vision.

Then, in 1999, a chance encounter brought startling news: a revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery could restore May’s vision. It would allow him to drive, to read, to see his children’s faces. He began to contemplate an astonishing new world: Would music still sound the same? Would sex be different? Would he recognize himself in the mirror? Would his marriage survive? Would he still be Mike May?

The procedure was filled with risks, some of them deadly, others beyond May’s wildest dreams. Even if the surgery worked, history was against him. Fewer than twenty cases were known worldwide in which a person gained vision after a lifetime of blindness. Each of those people suffered desperate consequences we can scarcely imagine.

There were countless reasons for May to pass on vision. He could think of only a single reason to go forward. Whatever his decision, he knew it would change his life.

Beautifully written and thrillingly told, Crashing Through is a journey of suspense, daring, romance, and insight into the mysteries of vision and the brain. Robert Kurson gives us a fascinating account of one man’s choice to explore what it means to see–and to truly live.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Christopher Evan Welch brings a tone of boyish wonder to the reading of Kurson's biography of Mike May, a highly successful entrepreneur, athlete, husband and father who undergoes experimental surgery to regain the vision that he lost in a chemical explosion at age three. When May chooses to pursue the risky procedure, he rejects the notion of blindness as an infirmity that requires healing. Instead, May views the restoration of sight as a new adventure to explore with the same gusto that he has demonstrated in all facets of life. Without pathos or pity, Welch vividly portrays May's challenge of processing the mental complexities of his newfound vision, including navigating the aisles of Costco and recognizing the gender of patrons at a neighborhood coffee bar. Some listeners may not fully embrace the stance of hearty stoicism, but others will be captivated by the decidedly nonmelodramatic perspective. As an added bonus, the audiobook includes an insightful follow-up interview between Kurson and May.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 696 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (May 15, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000QEKMUI
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,629 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blind, But Now I See 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Remarkable, Unbelievably Inspiring... June 1, 2007
By JenRink
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving story of a life changing event... 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
3.0 out of 5 stars The difference between style and content 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful, honest story. Strongly recommended read.
Published 29 days ago by Lawrence J. Losey
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting
The book is well written. May has a strong outlook on life, though I was very surprised at how shallow he seemed seeing as he spent most of his life blind.
Published 1 month ago by Al
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Such a great book. Arrived timely - no problems
Published 2 months ago by Allie Heber
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!!
Excellent book about a sightless man that regains sight in his 40s. However, the brain rewired itself so vision was a challenge.
Published 2 months ago by Leslie M. Algren
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Pretty interesting and awe inspiring story; drags some in the telling.
Published 2 months ago by Robert Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book and great seller
Published 3 months ago by linda gimble
5.0 out of 5 stars This Story Rocks
Brave man, extraordinary mother, fun read.
Published 3 months ago by Patrick M.
1.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like this man,,,,
I really wanted to like Mike May - he has hero potential - but Kurson makes him out to be a womanizer of the worst kind. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Foxt
5.0 out of 5 stars There is more to learn from having a choice... than not having a...
This book is more important to me than stories about adversity through such events as natural disasters and other hardships. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Concord Man
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting book about an incredible man's journey.
I could not put this book down. It was intriguing to learn of how vision works. Also the adventures and the spirit of this man and his family are amazing. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Judy
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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.

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