Jen Rothmeyer's Reviews > Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero

Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson
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Aug 06, 11

Read in August, 2011

Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson (and Susy Flory) is being released just in time for the ten-year anniversary of the devastating terrorist attacks around which this book orbits. Roughly half of the novel discusses Michael Hingson’s down-trodding escape from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center On 09/11/2011. The other half is about, as Mr. Hingson puts it, blind power. You see, Mr. Hingson is not only a survivor of the attacks, but he was also rendered blind shortly after his birth. Thunder Dog details Mr. Hingson’s life from the time his parents discovered he was blind until sometime after the attacks of 9/11 with some focus (approximately half of each chapter) on the actual events of the day that he fled for his life with his guide dog leading the way. Written in very easy-to-understand language, the book is a breeze to read and I flew through it. It was interesting and even Mr. Hingson admits that sometimes he’s come across as a little arrogant (but perhaps his accomplishments deserve the pride in his actions).

Normally, despite my meager yet formative reserve military service of 03/2001-03/2007, I would shy away from topics relating to 9/11 and the events that have transpired since. They quickly devolve into politics, blaming, and finger-pointing. Thunder Dog is not that way; in fact, you could say the novel is all about empowerment. Mr. Hingson, with the help of Susy Flory, delivers encouragement and understanding to those who are also blind. He discusses his relationship with his guide dog, Roselle (who has since passed away), which I greatly enjoyed reading as I am a lover of working dogs. He also discusses how the sighted (or light-dependent as he puts it) should not pity nor look down upon the blind, as the blind don’t have it all that bad. He discusses some dos and don’ts and some things of which sighted people may not normally think.

As someone who has not seen the site of the WTC except on television, has never been to New York, and was not present for the events, I found this book to be really touching. More than once I cried as I read about the hardship that New York and it’s residents and nearby areas suffered (I don’t mean to leave out the other victims and victims’ families, but the book centers on the World Trade Center). I will never forget where I was when I learned of the attacks. I watched the second plane hit and the subsequent announcements. That still didn’t really bring it home to me until I picked up this book and read about the devastation. That said, Mr. Hingson truly writes more about being blind and its impact on his survival and living in daily life than he actually writes about the events of the day. In the end, that was really okay for me because I needed to learn some of the things he had to say about blindness.

It also reminded me that I need to start writing and coding and thinking in terms of not just my sighted readers but also those who aren’t light-dependent as well as others who need accessible websites. Don’t worry, Mr. Hingson, I’m going to educate myself and be of more use.

Probably the most touching part of the book was probably something that other people would gloss over. I’m going through a really rough period in my personal life right now; therefore, I really took some comfort from the following passage. “Here’s a great Milton Berle quote from my vintage radio show vault. He sums it up perfectly: ‘I’d rather be a could-be if I can-not be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.”

Here’s to a lot of reaching for stars. Thank you, Mr. Hingson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson free from Thomas Nelson through the Booksneeze review program. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. The opinions I have expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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