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A Secretly Handicapped Man: A Memoir Paperback – July 28, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

“In the space of seventy years I was variously labeled as crippled, deformed, handicapped and disabled, more recently as a person with disabilities, and currently as physically challenged. The evolving choice of epithets traces the gradual changes in societal perceptions, but all these terms have a common theme; they designate someone who is different." Norbert Nathanson, Northport, ME
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: North Wind Publishing (July 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0989568911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0989568913
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,721,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By R. Rathke on August 14, 2013
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Growing up as Norb Nathanson's next door neighbor in Pittsbugh, and watching his accomplishments during the early years of WQED-TV, I can relate to his descriptions of the Spring Hill neighborhood and the people who interacted with him in that era. But more important, I understood why he introduced these early incidents in telling the story of a lifetime of challenges and successes. Throughout the book he describes his mother and dad's unfailing support in some very difficult times, and I found myself thinking, "What wonderful parents". Then, near the end of the book Norb writes some very emotional words saying just that. The book is very compelling and quite inspirational. And, oh yes, it is very well written.
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This is the inspiring story of a man born with just one hand and no feet who struggled to overcome the physical pain and social stigma of his disabilities. Wading into a cold mountain stream fishing for trout, piloting his sailboat up the Atlantic coast, or scripting and directing the television production of St. Louis’ Mid America Jubilee, he never accepted the judgment of others that he was crippled, impaired or disabled. There are not many who would decide to have their legs amputated to significantly improve their lives. This was the choice the author made, and it was transformative. Fitted with prosthetic legs he was now normal height, walked with a normal gait, and with long pants could keep his disability a secret. After thirty-four years of pain standing and walking, stares, epithets and social rejection, he appeared normal. With the right arm of his jacket altered, and with the skills of a magician, he was able to distract others’ gaze from the missing right hand. He was now able to marry, have children and pursue a professional career in education and television as the bread winner for his family. Although his work life was always precarious, he was able to achieve his own version of the American dream. It is a remarkable story of courage, resilience, discipline, intelligence and skill.

This is a well written, well edited book, and in telling his story the author gives the reader an insider’s view of the gauntlet our society has erected for those with disabilities. Post World War II America was a time of upward mobility when the working class could earn a decent living and their sons and daughters could go to college and move into the middle class.
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Each page brought me a little closer to what someone with a disability lives with each and every day of their lives. At times, I found myself gripping the page and almost tearing it out, I was so angry. In the many books I've read, I don't think I've ever experienced all the emotions I felt while reading Mr. Nathanson's story. I was in tears at one point, only to find myself laughing out loud the next and actually doing a few 'fist pumps' along the way. It is truly an inspiring and well written book, with just enough detail to pull you in to the scene. Through it all you find a truly remarkable man and a family who loved and supported him.
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This is the most amazing story! Rarely is a memoir a page-turner, but this book was. The author made all the scenes and characters vibrantly alive. Fascinating view of early television from a pioneer in TV production. It is told with candor and beautifully written. I passed a copy on to a handicapped friend who found it an inspiring tale of indomitable courage.
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A SECRETLY HANDICAPPED MAN
A MEMOIR BY NORBERT NATHANSON

It is not often that we are given the privilege and opportunity to learn about the life of a man who was born with some challenges that could have had a much more restrictive impact on his life than they did. In this book we are given the opportunity to see how this man and his family dealt with his handicaps.

Norbert tells us in a very readable way what is was like for him growing up and some of the issues that he has faced at all stages of his life. We see how his parents were able to support him and make his world as normal as possible and we also see how his own determination and persistence helped him to pursue the goals that he set for himself.

We have an opportunity to understand how the issue of secrets can affect the lives of all family members and how difficult it is for people who are different to be accepted for their abilities . A question that comes to mind while reading this book is how much did other peoples perception of his abilities and talents affect his own perceptions of himself. How much more difficult did this make it for him to accomplish all the things that he did?

This book should be a must read for all of us to help us understand what it is like for people who are “different “ and especially for the ones of us that have friends and clients who face some of the challenges that Norbert had.

Judy DeWitt, MSW,ACSW
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