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Book Review: Thunderdog - Michael Hingson

Updated on November 30, 2012
Rocelle: Michael Hingson's Guide Dogwwas terrified by thunderstorms. But on 9/11 she led her blind companion from his office on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center building then as the towers fell she remained at his side a pillar of courage.
Rocelle: Michael Hingson's Guide Dogwwas terrified by thunderstorms. But on 9/11 she led her blind companion from his office on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center building then as the towers fell she remained at his side a pillar of courage.

Where Were You On 9/11

September 11, 2001 is one of those days where most of the people who are able to remember can tell you where they were when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center fell following the attack by terrorists who crashed an airliner into each tower at about 9am on a bright clear September morning in New York City.

I can remember where I was. At home 5,000 miles away watching the BBC News report of all the attacks.

Michael Hingson can tell you exactly where he was too. He and his guide dog, Rocelle, had just climbed down the stairs from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center I (WTC) building.

This book tells Michaels story, not only the events of that day, but also the story of a fascinating life journey that led him to be working as an advertising manager on the 78th floor of the WTC that day.

Blind Since Birth

Michael Hingson has been blind since birth. He was born prematurely in 1950. The standard treatment at that time was to place all such babies into an oxygen rich environment. This treatment made Michael and tens of thousands of others blind.

Michael's parents never allowed their son to be treated differently.

Michael could walk about his hometown, later much to the concern of neighbors rode a bicycle. Michael knew about his blindness but only the outside world saw it as a disability.

Michael just saw it as doing things differently as he graduated university with honors after studying physics. He also gained a teaching credential, began a career in advertising and married happily.

The book as Michael says is also about how a blind man came to be on the 78th floor of the WTC . His escape from the towers was just walking down the stairs.

Just A Walk Down the Stairs

Michael and Rocelle were prepared to work on 9/11.

Michael had prepared a sales conference with clients in his office suite. Rocelle had to guide him to work and home, taking a nap under his desk as she waited to go home in the evening.

Instead at 8:45am Michael felt the building shift and sway 20 feet or so. A muffled boom also filled the air. Then a colleague looking out of the window saw papers falling past the window. The papers were burning.

Looking up the floors above were gushing smoke.

Rocelle approached Michael. She had been his guide dog for a few months. She sat beside him. He got the message. Time to leave.

Michael and his colleague cleared their office of staff and guests and began the hour long walk down the 78 floors to the street below.

Michael paints a vivid portrait of the experience , no-one panicked, everyone just walked down the stairs.

Michael also recounts the encounters with firemen as they climbed past the evacuees. The soft last pat and kiss of Rocelle by one of the firemen as he climbed to who knows what?

This Book is Excellent

I purchased this book and read it in twenty-four hours.

It is not often that a book captures my attention this way.

Being blind myself, I am familiar with many of the obstacles Michael describes in the book, the trivial annoyances of blindness.

Where Michael excels is in his view that his and Rocelles escape from the towers was for a reason.

The reasin he sees is to educate. He does just that. He inspires the blind and he educates the sighted as well.

I am buying this book for several friends this Christmas.

It is a dog story, it is a story of hope, it is an education into another world.

It is just a GREAT book!


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    • Bretsuki profile imageAUTHOR

      William Elliott 

      5 years ago from California USA

      Hello Bob, thanks for stopping by and commenting. This is a perfect story for dog lovers. For me the best part is that we learn alot about the working relationship between the blind and their guide dogs. There is a lot more to it than holding a handle and following the dog.

    • BobbiRant profile image


      5 years ago from New York

      I love dogs and I adore dog stories. Great hub.

    • Bretsuki profile imageAUTHOR

      William Elliott 

      5 years ago from California USA

      Thank you darkspark.


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