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Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir Paperback – Bargain Price, February 1, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this moving and engrossing memoir, veteran television news producer Richard Cohen relates a life spent dealing with multiple sclerosis, first diagnosed when he was 25 years old and just getting started in the competitive world of broadcast journalism. As his career progressed, he struggled not only with the disease but the touchy question of how much of the truth about himself to share with colleagues and potential employers. Cohen spent much of his life running from the onset of the disease's symptoms from which his father and grandmother also suffered. Defiantly, he took challenging, sometimes extremely dangerous assignments in Lebanon, Poland, and on the domestic political campaign trail, even as his body deteriorated. But over the course of Blindsided, it becomes apparent that illness had actually built Cohen up even as it ripped him apart. Without the physical and mental toughness required to navigate a journalist's life while fighting back loss of eyesight and poor equilibrium, it's doubtful that the flaky kid we meet early in the book would transform into the award-winning professional Cohen eventually becomes. His marriage to journalist Meredith Vieira, every bit his equal as both newshound and deadpan cynical comic, gave Cohen the stable family life and children he needed when MS made it impossible to continue in a traditional news job. But two bouts with colon cancer in the late 1990s tested his resolve and his family's patience. While Cohen is both courageous and inspirational, Blindsided is not the overly sentimental clichéd tale that stories about fighting illness often become. He refuses to paint himself as the hero (except when making fun of his own failure to be heroic) and recounts in detail the strain that he put on his marriage and children. Stories such as this often end with the memoirist arriving at a state of peace and mental clarity but again Cohen remains more compelling and credible by offering no such pat answers. As with most people fighting to preserve their families, their lives, and their bodies, Richard Cohen's is an ongoing struggle. --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In 1972, when he was 25, Cohen, an up-and-coming television journalist, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease for which there is no cure. In this wrenching memoir, he tells how he has for the past 30 years succeeded in his determination to "cope and to hope." For a long time, he hid his condition from friends and co-workers, taking on dangerous assignments for CBS in Poland, Lebanon and El Salvador even though his mobility and vision were impaired. He became a senior producer at CBS, and although he eventually quit the station in 1987 because he felt it was pandering to commercial and political pressures, he worked as a producer for PBS, CNN and Fox until he left TV in the late 1990s to become a writer and teacher. In spite of his illness, he also married and had three children. He nearly lost his courage in 1999 when he learned that he had colon cancer, but after two operations and the realization that despair and anger would drive his family away, he come to grips with this, too. In painful detail, he chronicles the progress of multiple sclerosis - the increasing numbness in his hands and legs and the resultant falls, loss of vision to the point where he is now legally blind and, lately, mental confusion. Nevertheless, he writes: "These pages are not about suffering.... This book is about surviving and flourishing, rising above fear and self-doubt and, of course, anger." His wife, Meredith Vieira, a well-known television personality, has been portrayed in popular magazines as a martyr who bears a terrible burden. Cohen proves that nothing could be further from the truth. First serial rights to People magazine.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060014105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060014100
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,699,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Josephine Kaszuba Locke on March 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Review based on hardcover 9/2003... Reviewer's comment: 'Until you walk in my shoes...' I offer that reminder to those reviewers and readers who may pass judgment on a writer, who openly shares his life of trials and tribulations, of what he does or does not say... how he does or does not react to his chronic illness. Here is a man who opens himself to public scrutiny of emotions from the heart -- that alone is a over-the-top fete to accomplish, in this reviewer's eye. Shalom, Mr. Cohen, thank you.
BLINDSIDED is a book sized small in width and length, but powerfully-packed in content with exceptional use of words, phrases and sharing of personal privacy. Richard M. Cohen tells of his life, his family, his chronic illness with candor, wit, anger and courage. Cohen reveals heartache, emotional, physical and mental trials, with introspection of his actions and effect upon his family and self well-being. There are moments when Cohen sometimes goes within himself, leaving the reader, but faithfully he returns.
At age 25, Cohen was diagnosed with beginning stages of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - a progressive disease. In later years, he battles recurring colon cancer with accompanying side effects, and deals with blindness attributed to side effects of MS. With honesty, the author vents the struggles of physical and mental pain. The fact that the medical profession was only mildly supportive in caring... unconcerned with applying the holistic approach, and the ramifications suffered by Mr. Cohen is appalling, a blemish on the medical profession -- albeit not a new occurrence.
At the beginning there are natural denials ...
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By A Customer on February 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I think this is a book everyone should read. Why? Well first let me tell you why I read it. I have a friend who has MS, and I felt this was a book I needed to read to support them, as well as just to gain a better understanding of what one goes through with MS. About half way through this book I realized, the book isn't about MS, it's about living with illness period. MS just happens to be the illness Mr. Cohen has been dealt, along with Colin cancer. At times this book is very intense with emotions and I wanted to just sit there and cry. A few times I just about did. Reading this book helped me to understand that when things seem to be getting bad, always put things in prospective. Think about where you are at that moment in time, and think about how well you have it to others. Count your blessings, especially the ones that matter the most to you. Mr. Cohen had to learn that he couldn't try to run away from his illnesses, he had to learn to run WITH them. It's not always as easy as it sounds; it's a process that Mr. Cohen had to accept. He also had to realize he is a work in progress. This book is one I think everyone should read because of the fact that it encourages you and reminds you that things aren't always easy, but with the ones you love around you, you will get through life with illness or a disability. Those with illness or a disability don't have to run life's race alone. That is probably the one thing in this book that I was encouraged the most about. This book is the best book I've read in a long time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I, too, suffer from a rare, chronic, progressive neurological disease. I saw myself so clearly in these pages - the frustration, the anger, the acknowledgement of the energy it takes just to make it from day to day.
This is not a "how-to-cope" book. It will take you inside the mind of a person who suffers from a disease -- severe MS in this case -- and is a journal of sorts of his battle for 25+ years. Insult is added to injury when he develops colon cancer - twice.
Cohen is marrried to television talk-show host (The View) Meredith Viera, and it's about the dynamics of their marriage and family (three children) as much as it is about him and his illnesses. The honesty is searing and made me feel as if I were with a compatriot in a lonely war.
What I have found to be of great help for myslef is developing my spiritual (different from religious) life. Cohen dismisses this avenue of help, although he talks a lot about atttitude, and I wanted to reach out to him and share the comfort I have found.
I still highly recommend this book to anyone who is chronically ill, or shares a life with someone who faces that challenge.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having just read the very last sentence I have tears in my eyes from the strong emotions I feel upon it's end. Words can't describe how well written and truly honest this book is.
It will touch your heart and soul. This book will take you to places within your psyche that are so painful, gut wrenching and raw you will wonder how Richard could write in ways that you have always felt but were unable to put into words.
I have MS and have read many books on the subject of living with a chronic illness. This is by far the best. If you or your family is living with illness this book is should be on the top of your reading to-do list.
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Format: Hardcover
What a poignoint narrative...I see so many parallels between his experience with that of our family...so few people truly understand what living and coping with life threatening chronic illnesses is like or how a progressive illness can have such a major impact on a family. He is a role model of 'strength' and 'tenacity' for those of us who traverse the 'landmine' of castrosophic illnesses. I appreciate his searing honesty and his outlook on life. I could relate to everything he wrote about. Bravo to a well written, moving book.
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