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Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  496 ratings  ·  56 reviews
John Hockenberry's Moving Violations is one of the most entertaining, provocative, unexpected, outspoken, and occasionally outrageous books in recent memory. It is a story of obstacles--physical, emotional, and psychic--overcome again, and again, and again. Whether riding a mule up a hillside in Iraq surrounded by mud-stained Kurdish refugees, navigating his wheelchair thr ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 11th 1996 by Hachette Books (first published 1995)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  496 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone, especially people struggling to adapt to disability
Shelves: memoir, firstread
This is an absolutely stunning 275-page book that unfortunately comes in at a merely-very-good 367 pages.

Okay, okay, that's a very glib way to sum this up, and it does a disservice to Hockenberry's memoir, which is full of guts, truth, insight, and candor. I do absolutely recommend it, with very few qualifications, and one of those qualifications is that it can't quite decide if it wants to be a recounting of Hockenberry's personal (emotional and physical) struggle with his disability, a disabi
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
stop feeling lucky that you still have use of your legs and start feeling lucky to be alive and thinking. hockenberry, paralyzed from the T-5 vertebra down after surviving a car accident at age 19, is intelligent and wise, determined and contrarian, real and awe-inspiring. his memoir takes you through rehab, romance, broadcasting, war, and more. if i owned 1000 copies of this book i would give one to everyone i know.
Easily the best book I've read this year. I don't even remember why I picked this one up--I had no idea who Hockenberry was, being maybe a little young to have caught his NPR heydey--but whoever recommended it in passing or left it sitting out on display where I could see it, thank you.

There's a lot going on here that I could talk about, whether it's the blunt description of how America treats its disabled citizens (often poorly; this should come as no surprise) or the rueful ruminations on war
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eugene, memoir, oregon
I enjoyed reading this book. I had heard John Hockenberry on NPR but had no idea he was a paraplegic or had lived in Lane County Oregon during the late 70's and early 80's. I learned a lot about the issues facing someone using a wheelchair in the most entertaining manner. Questions I'd never thought to ask were answered. I also loved the descriptions of events that took place in an area I know well. Eugene, Springfield, Florence, Fall Creek, Oregon Country Fair and the Pacific Ocean are all desc ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
If I could give 3 1/2 stars I would.
Sharon Todd
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A strange accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike puts John Hockenberry, age 19, in a wheelchair. But it is like he is born to be in a wheelchair. He's not depressed or discouraged about being a paraplegic, but jokes about it and goes about proving that the chair does not matter.

Mastering the chair, exploring different strategies for curbs and workable routes to where he's going (long before the Americans with Disabilities Act) keeps him busy. His exploits in the Chicago subway/el system are both
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Most of the Christian landmarks [in the Middle East] are dormant shrines to old arguments between popes and Orthodox patriarchs and caliphs having little to do with the time or place Jesus grew up and died. There are a handful of historically dubious places for Christian pilgrims. The dingy grottoes, tombs, and street corners where Jesus was thrown, dragged, bled, drank some vinegar, was condemned and then nailed to a post one spring day 2,000 years ago are mobbed with tourists and souvenir sale ...more
Moving Violations is the memoir of a man who is living life on 11 despite an auto accident he was involved in at age 19 in which he incurred spinal injuries that left him paralyzed from his chest down. The book was written 19 years later, when he is 38 and has lived half of his life as a walking person, and half in a wheelchair. His accident was in 1976, before the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect, and he came across many, many barriers to success, but he smashed through them -- ...more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
I was previously unaware of this book until it was included as part of an Occupational Therapy course in which I was one of the instructors. 'Moving Violations...' was assigned to my learning group as part of a disability memoir assignment; encouraging students to delve deeper into the lived experience of someone living with a perceived handicap. In many ways this book is a resounding sucess (considering this objective), and in many ways a dismal failure.

While Hockenberry provides many enclaves
Jan 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
A fascinating (though occasionally rambling) memoir from John Hockenberry, radio journalist, Middle East correspondent, and paraplegic since a automobile accident at age nineteen.

There's a hell of a lot packed into this book. It's a personal memoir of an American journalist's experiences in Israel and Iran; it's the vivid personal history of a man with a physical disability. This is a reminder not to forget that individuals are individuals the world over; there are accounts of the widely differi
Aug 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All
This was a spur-of-the-moment, used bookstore purchase, and I'm glad I got it. It's got some wonderful poignant moments and his radio background helps his writing make you feel like you're actually there. Like any good radio journalist, he paints the pictures with his words.

Reading about the first Gulf War from the perspective of today is always interesting. Add in his insights into handicapped life in America (and its parallels to minority life in America) and it's just a fascinating book to r
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This is Hockenberrry’s memoir of his life since the car accident that put him in a wheelchair. He’s an amazing guy. Biology? Or environment? That pesky question we can never answer. I was continually surprised by some of Hockenberry’s attitudes and pronouncements about how “crips” think and feel, so different than the cultural group-think imagines. The other thing in this book that surprised me was some of Hockenberry’s motivations for the things he did; they were completely unexpected. And I th ...more
Kim D
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Another NPR-driven selection. I was loaned this book by a volunteering friend from Sun Sounds. The book is the memoir of John Hockenberry, journalist, and his life after a car accident in his 20s left him paralyzed. Although "confined" to a wheelchair, John has traveled as a war correspondent, journalist, broadcaster, and husband/father. A very inspiring story of moving through life while adapting (not compromising or compensating) for a disability. (The chapter about stalking his former girlfri ...more
Jessica Zoop
I thought that the book was witty, amusing, and interesting. I appreciated his perspective on the day to day logistics of living with a disability and on able bodied people's assumptions / behavior.

However, the rest of my book club were quite angry at the book, Mr. Hockenberry & me (it was my pick). None of the others could even bring themselves to even finish it and they blame the book for their continuing fear of offering assistance to people with disabilities.

It made for an interesting discus
Jun 06, 2013 rated it liked it
At times he wore me out with his anger, but who am I to judge? Hockenberry made me think a lot about what it would be like to lose my own mobility and how would I deal with that? I had a hard time placing when the 'handicap' became visual in our daily lives. I was pleased to find out he have five children. Interesting to read how Americans compare to the rest of the world in treating people with disabilities.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most interesting and useful books I have read. Soon after I first read this book, my adult son fell and sustained a severe spinal cord injury. I was not nearly as clueless and I could have been about how to begin to help him adjust. It is a funny and touching book about the life of the author, also.
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book used- I saw it on the shelf and thought oh, I know who that guy is ... I had no expectations for the book and was really surprised when I found myself unable to put it down. The writing is at times emotional, at times matter of fact, but always interesting. Hockenberry has had a very full life to this point- and I am glad that I had a chance to read about it.
Debbie Blicher
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Carried by the powerful voice of its narrator, this book kicks ass. This guy's got brains, balls, and wheels. Remember that Hockenberry is a journalist, not a book author, so the structure is episodic and often digressive. Great book for anyone approaching a new life challenge. Outrageous, informative, uplifting. Five stars for content, 3.5 for craft.
Judy Diedrichs
Oct 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book definitely changed the way I looked at the world. Fifteen years later I still sometimes find myself viewing the world through the eyes of someone in a wheelchair. This book was very funny. The chapter where he hides under his girlfriend's bed had me rolling on the floor.
John Jolly
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: thoughtful
This was such a great book by a former NPR correspondant. This was Hockenberry's biography starting at the time of his spine injury up through his covering the first Iraq war, all in a wheelchair. Despite the subject, the book is not that sad, quite funny at many time points.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A heart wrenching recollection without feeling sorry for himself, this memoir is one of my favorites. Not only for his precise and to the point writing, but for his honesty and ability to face his short comings.
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Hockenberry, a former "All Things Considered" host and long time NPR reporter, is "paralyzed from the nipples down," yet nonetheless succeeds as a reporter in Middle East during the early nineties. Insightful and amusing stuff, people.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm currently reading this book. Honestly, it deserves more than three stars. I gave it this rating though because I'm finding it very put down-able. So far what I've read is really thought provoking.
May 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This one has some language and some sex so be forewarned. However, this is the best book I've read in a while. It's about an NPR reporter who is a paraplegic, and it talks about his accident, his disability, and his reporting assignments. Loved it.
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a very unique book... The author is often extremely verbose using 50 words when should only use 5. But, the experiences that this man has had are unbelievable! Many times you can't help but laugh at the craziness of his predicament. Read it, but skim the first 150 pages :)
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First introduced to this book by the author himself. I heard him speak at an AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association) conference and bought his book. Definately recommend reading his moving story.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite non-fiction books I've read. Wonderful juxtaposition of the author's rehabilitation after a debilitating car crash and his life as a journalist covering the wars in the Middle East.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the various stories of his struggles with paraplegia, family stories, and political stories about traveling as a news correspondent--all with his musings on connections and what it all means. He's very funny and self-deprecating and amazing how he didn't let his disability hold him back.
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Reading this for class! This was an interesting book. Parts of it were very heavy reading and harder to get through than others. I am not sure I would have chose to read this if it had not been assigned.
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book. The book is very easy to read and hilariously written. At the same time it provides a perspective from a paraplegic and made me think about how someone in a wheelchair looks at the world.
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