Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: "Thunder Dog"

"Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog & The Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero" by Michael Hingson
First published in 2011
My rating 3 out of 5
(image source)

Michael Hingson was on the 78th floor of World Trade Center Tower 1 when the first plane struck on 9/11. He had no idea what had happened -- that a plane had crashed into his building, that it was a terrorist attack -- only that there had been some sort of explosion. With a close colleague and many strangers, he began the long descent down 78 flights of stairs. But there was something that set Michael apart. He's blind, and he and his guide dog, Roselle, were making their way together down the endless stairway, and later through the dust- and debris-filled streets around the World Trade Center after the collapse of Tower 2.

But Michael wouldn't want anyone to say he was "set apart." On one hand the book is a first-hand account of being inside the World Trade Center on 9/11, but on the other hand it's a memoir of growing up blind, of navigating the world -- biking around the neighborhood, going to college, starting a career, getting married -- all without sight. As is evidenced by his multiple refusals of extra help during his escape from Tower 1, Michael wants the world to know that blind people are just as capable as everyone else.

While my attention was hooked by both amazing first-hand accounts -- life through a blind man's eyes and surviving the 9/11 terrorist attack -- I wasn't altogether thrilled with the writing. The book was rather repetitive and certain parts seemed to lack depth. Still, I found the story interesting and the dog-lover in me couldn't put it down.

The bond between Michael and his guide dog, Roselle, is quite touching. And her intelligence, courage, selflessness and perseverance in a terrible, stressful, life-threatening situation is a testament to the amazing abilities dogs possess. "Thunder Dog" reminded me a lot of a book a read earlier this year: "Until Tuesday," a memoir written by an Iraq war veteran suffering from both physical injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder whose guide dog saved his life. Both tales give readers a glimpse into the very special union that is a guide dog-human relationship.

1 comment:

  1. This is one book I would put on my "to read" list. It sounds very inspiring.


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