Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man's Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life
Foreword by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg / Introduction by Art Garfunkel
Final Word by Margaret Atwood
The remarkable and inspiring story of a Columbia University undergraduate from a poor Jewish family who, after losing his eyesight to disease during his junior year, finds the power to break through the darkness and fulfill his vision for a life of great professional success and distinguished public service.
It’s a bitterly cold February in 1961. Sandy Greenberg lies in a hospital bed in Detroit, newly blind. A junior at Columbia University from a Jewish family that struggled to stay above the poverty line, Sandy had just started to see the world open up to him. Now, instead of his plans for a bright future—Harvard Law and politics—Sandy faces a new reality, one defined by a cane or companion dog, menial work, and a cautious path through life.
But that’s not how this story ends.
In the depth of his new darkness, Sandy faces a choice—play it “safe” by staying in his native Buffalo or return to Columbia University to pursue his dreams. With the loving devotion of his girlfriend (and now wife) Sue and the selflessness of best friends Art Garfunkel and Jerry Speyer, Sandy endures unimaginable adversity while forging a life of exceptional achievement.
From his time in the White House working for President Lyndon B. Johnson to his graduate studies at Harvard and Oxford Universities under luminaries such as Archibald Cox, Sir Arthur Goodhart, and Samuel Huntington, and through the guidance of his invaluable mentor David Rockefeller, Sandy fills his life and the lives of those around him with a radiant light of philanthropy, entrepreneurship, art, and innovation.
People Magazine feature on Sandy, his friendship with Art Garfunkel, and his memoir, Hello Darkness, My Old Friend.
TODAY Show segment – Art Garfunkel and Sanford Greenberg discuss their special bond
2022 Wolf Blitzer interview with Sandy about his memoir, Hello Darkness, My Old Friend, for broadcast by the 92nd Street Y in New York City.
"Often his memories brought smiles; other times they left me near to tears. From the first page to the last, I was captivated by his bright mind, ready wit, and indomitable spirit."
– SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG
"Sandy plays the hand he got and tries to make the world a better place. He has aspirations and hope. Sandy is a role model for all of us."
– MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK
"An inspiring must-read for anyone facing challenges in life, as a guide to beating the odds and making your impact on the world."
– VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE
"Sanford Greenberg’s allegory, Education Embraced by the Human Spirit, is the story of his perpetual heroism."
– FRANK STELLA, ARTIST
"I was so deeply touched to read Sandy’s treatment of me in this magnificent book. I blush to find myself within his dimension. My friend is my gold standard of decency.”
– ART GARFUNKEL, SINGER
"This memoir is the story of a man brought from blindness to richness, from darkness to light, through his passion and his accomplishments, and from a deep commitment from those who loved him. This book renews life in us all."
– RICHARD AXEL, 2004 NOBEL LAUREATE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE
“There is no greater measure of character than viewing one’s personal setbacks as a call to serve others. Sandy and Sue soared above their personal challenges and dedicated their lives to making a positive change in the world. We’re confident that this magnificent book will be one of the most inspirational you will ever read.”
– ELIZABETH AND BOB DOLE
“A majestic book, authored by the most ‘haimish’ of men. This should be required reading for every young person with a dream of helping their community.”
– SENATOR RON WYDEN
"It's not always true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but it can sometimes be true, and in Sandy's case it has been."
– MARGARET ATWOOD, AUTHOR
"When blindness is vanquished, and it will be, we will have Sandy Greenberg and his story to thank."
– SENATOR CHRIS COONS
“An inspirational story of resilience, determination, achievement and, mostly, of the power of friendship and love. I could not stop reading this extraordinary book about an extraordinary journey."
– SUSAN GOLDBERG, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Hello Darkness - Young Reader Edition
Hello Darkness is the true story of a young man who at the peak of his college career loses his eyesight and is plunged into total darkness. Once, Sandy Greenberg had dreamed of being a lawyer, maybe even governor. Now, he’s told he must walk cautiously through life. But that’s not how this story unfolds. Love, friendship, and his own iron determination write an entirely different end to this inspiring story.
From the Foreword:
"You would think that a book about a young man going blind would be very sad. I went blind at age nineteen, and, yes, there were some awfully hard times. But my story is more than a tragedy. In fact, it’s not really a tragedy at all.
I think of my life in three acts, like a play.
In Act One, I was a young boy, raised by poor but loving parents just after World War II.
In Act Two, I went to a great college and had a promising future ahead of me. Then, wham, I got a disease that left me blind.
In Act Three—well, you’ll just have to read this book to find out what happened. Along the way there are tears and laughter, painful moments and wonderful times.
When you go blind after nineteen years, you remember a lot of what the world looked like. You remember all kinds of things. After I went blind, my memory became like muscle that grew stronger every day. I remember so much that I just had to write it down. What follows are some of the low and high points of my life."