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Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See Hardcover – May 15, 2007

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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.

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400063353
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400063352
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Kurson is an American author, best known for his 2004 bestselling book, Shadow Divers, the true story of two Americans who discover a World War II German U-boat sunk 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey. Kurson began his career as an attorney, graduating from Harvard Law School, and practicing real estate law. Kurson's professional writing career began at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a sports agate clerk and soon gained a full-time features writing job. In 2000, Esquire published "My Favorite Teacher," his first magazine story, which became a finalist for a National Magazine Award. He moved from the Sun-Times to Chicago magazine, then to Esquire, where he won a National Magazine Award and was a contributing editor for years. His stories have appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. He lives in Chicago.

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#30 in Books > History
#30 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 59 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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22 of 22 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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21 of 22 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 29 people found the following review helpful By G. Reid on May 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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