For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind

 

"In this intelligent, humane book, Rosemary Mahoney writes of people who are blind, many of them from impoverished cultures with little sympathy for their plight.  She reports on their courage and gives voice, time and again, to their miraculous dignity." --- Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon

 

"This joyful, thoughtful book took me on an emotional journey and introduced me to people I'll never forget. With her wonderfully sharp prose and great sense of humor and humanity, Rosemary Mahoney has written a riveting narrative that combines world-class reporting, science, history, and travel writing. For the Benefit of Those Who See has changed forever the way I view my senses, and made me aware of how I do and don't experience the world.”—Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

“Rosemary Mahoney is one of a handful of nonfiction writers so original and so surprising that I look forward to each new book with an excitement bordering on impatience. What makes For the Benefit of Those Who See especially absorbing is that it turns on Mahoney’s greatest strength: her idiosyncratic and unblinking eye. As it explores the world of the blind, this provocative and revelatory work teaches us a great deal about what it means to see. And when I finished this book, I returned to the world feeling that all my senses had been sharpened.”—George Howe Colt, author of The Big House (finalist for The National Book Award in nonfiction) and Brothers

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: "Rosemary Mahoney, the exquisitely precise author who in past books has brought alive the insular culture of Irish women and a solo river trip down the Egyptian Nile, overlooks nothing. . . a vivid portrait of people and places . . . it's as if she'd turned on the lights in a dark room, revealing how the world appears to those who experience it with their other four senses.  The seeing reader will gasp in recognition and understanding, marveling at lives once hidden."

 

Book Page "[A] riveting glance into the world of the blind . . .  In her compulsively readable account, Mahoney reveals that the blind often embrace their affliction rather than wallowing in self-pity or searching for sympathy. . . . Mahoney’s beautifully written narrative opens our eyes to the experience of blindness and offers fresh insight into human resilience and the way we view the world."

 

Johns Hopkins Magazine: "Mahoney drinks in landscapes and people and turns them into page-turning meditations on the self and herself. . . . The resulting book is a compassionate realization that seeing isn't the only path to knowing. . . . Mahoney tries to understand sightless reality, and she does it with such blunt tenderness that it lends her writing a shambolic glee.  Though she alludes to secondary sources—philosophical considerations of blindness, medical accounts of sight being restored to blind patients—it's her experiences that make Benefit so thoughtful."

 

Radcliffe Magazine: ". . .Stunning. . . For the Benefit of Those Who See, could not have arrived at a better moment.. . . . In more ways than ever, we are always seeing, always seen.  But at what cost to our other senses?  To our humanity? . . . when Mahoney delivers us to the doorsteps of the Braille Without Borders school in Lhasa and its sister institution in Trivandrum, India. . . we know that the astonishing acuity with which her [blind] subjects perceive their world isn’t supernatural . . .  Writing with a scientist’s curiosity and insistence on fact—and a novelist’s gift for delineating place and character—Mahoney makes their world ours, too--  Megan Marshall

 

The Providence Journal: "Mahoney's ambition [is] revealing blindness to the sighted with poignancy, empathy and understanding. . . she meets her grand challenge eloquently in this firsthand experience.  Some of her blind characters are noble, some disagreeable, and all memorable, depicted realistically with Mahoney’s sharp eye for detail and dialogue."