Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thunder Dog

Michael Hingson has been blind pretty much since birth.  It’s explained that because he was born premature, at the time of his birth hospitals put babies in incubators and fo

rced in oxygen, by doing this they were creating a breeding ground for an eye infection that caused him and many other people to be blind along with a few famous people.  At 14 Michael received his first guide dog named Squire.  Since then he has had many guide

dogs.  Roselle is the newest one only having her for about a year they are considered to still be learning each other. 

On the morning of September 11th Roselle was still sleeping in since she had been up in the early hours because she is sensitive to storms.  Michael arrived in the office with Roselle early to set up his presentation.  In the middle of doing so there was a huge explosion that caused the building to sway 20 feet to one side.  Being on the 78th floor of the North Tower Michael thought they were going to topple over.  However within a minute the building righted itself.  Without thinking twice Michael decided to get his office staff and guest out of the building until it was safe to return.  At this point no one is aware that a plane has hit the building.  During the long decent down to the bottom Michael uses his other sense’s to help him stay calm and by him staying calm Roselle will stay calm.  At one point a few burn victims begin to come down and still no one knows it was a plane.  As the long decent continues Michael realizes he smells something familiar but can’t place it.  After a few more flights of stairs he finally figures out what the fumes were and realizes they have been hit by a plane.  During this time he starts to wonder why anyone would crash into the towers.  Since it wasn’t foggy out like the time someone flew into the Empire State Building. 

Towards the bottom of the tower firefighters start to come up and as each one passes they try to make him go down with them stating he needs assistance.  Michael doesn’t want to go since he has walked this far, being blind is not a disability to him and because there are other people who might need them more than him.  Finally Michael, Roselle and his co-worker who has been with him since they left the office reaching the bottom and leave the building.  Once outside Michael’s co-work tells him that both towers have been hit by planes and there is so much chaos and confusion going on.  They decide the best thing to do is try to get home.  As they are walking away from the scene the South tower falls and the first big dust cloud covers them.  Once this happens they feel like they cannot breath and they feel like they are choking on the concrete dust so they try to find shelter.  They finally find a place but it’s not long after that when a police officer tells them and the others that are there that they need to leave to safer ground.  Once again they are out in the dust, at this point it has calmed down enough to walk but that’s when the North tower falls and yet again they are covered in another dust cloud.  By this time Michael’s co-worker has found a place for them to stay until they can get home.  At this place the women cooks for them and Michael is able to get in touch with his wife.  Michael decides later in the evening it is ok to leave and heads home.  He makes it home to New Jersey late in the night to a waiting group of family and friends.

I really enjoyed this book.  However I didn’t give it a 100% because I wasn’t real sure Michael knew what story he wanted to tell.  Based on the book title and excerpt you are lead to believe it’s all about him and his dog getting through the terrible tragedy of 9/11 and how heroic his dog was.  But in reading the book it seemed more like a memoir of him and his life growing up blind.  In fact I was so into the 9/11 part of the story I actually got pretty annoyed when he would cut in and start talking about how being blind prepared him for this situation because… I feel like he could have given us his background in the first few chapters and went on for the rest of the book to tell the store of him and Roselle’s frightening tale of 9/11.

When I was able to read the store of their escape I was so amazed at how calm and focused Roselle was.  She just waited to take commands.  I was so involved with wondering what she must be thinking, how she must be feeling.  I was also amazed at how many people didn’t seem to know what was going on.  Michael stated they never heard the second plane hit the South tower. I can’t imagine how scared and confused most of the people must have been by this.  I’m sure some like Michael were just confused as to what it could have been but decided to take precautions and leave.  I am comforted by this some that maybe most of the people that died didn’t know what was going on so maybe they weren’t scared and just left us.  I had so many thoughts and feelings and questions after reading this.  Like how many were right there, could see the light when the building came tumbling down on them.  How many of them were on top of the planes and knew what happened and had to make their piece.  I can’t imagine the fear they must have had.  Since reading this store I’m eager to read more stores of the people of 9/11 not to be nosey but understand what they went through.  Those people are our history and in order for people later in life to know what happened that they people need to share the stores.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson free from 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.”