Groundbreaking neurologist Oliver Sacks has written a number of best-selling books on his experiences in the field, some of which have been adapted into film and even opera. Often criticized by fellow scientists for his writerly and anecdotal approach to cases, he is nevertheless beloved by the general public precisely for his willingness to exercise compassion toward his unusual subjects. In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the neurological conditions described therein.
Audible featured narrator Jonathan Davis is more than up to the task of bringing these case studies to life. He adopts a tone that is both sympathetic and authoritative. In fact, he sounds very much like the actor William Daniels, who voiced the car in the television show Knight Rider, or for a younger generation, played Principal Feeny in the television show Boy Meets World. The stories in this book concern matters of science, to be sure, but they also contain quite as much adventure into uncharted territory as either of those television shows.The cases are divided into four sections: losses, excesses, transports, and the world of the simple. "Losses" involves people who lack certain abilities, for example, the ability of facial recognition. "Excesses" deals with people who have extra abilities, for example, the tics associated with Tourette's Syndrome. "Transports" involves people who hallucinate, for example, a landscape or music from childhood. "The world of the simple" deals with autism and mental retardation. Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects. Indeed, Davis anchors his delivery of the facts in these admirable empathies, demonstrating that in terms of the cultural perception of neurological conditions, Sacks' early work still has much to teach us. Megan Volpert
In his most extraordinary book, "one of the great clinical writers of the 20th century" (The New York Times) recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.
If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks' splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do. A great healer, Sacks never loses sight of medicine's ultimate responsibility: "the suffering, afflicted, fighting human subject".
PLEASE NOTE: Some changes have been made to the original manuscript with the permission of Oliver Sacks.
©1970, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985 Oliver Sacks (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Dr. Sacks's best book.... One sees a wise, compassionate and very literate mind at work in these 20 stories, nearly all remarkable, and many the kind that restore one's faith in humanity." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"Dr. Sacks's most absorbing book.... His tales are so compelling that many of them serve as eerie metaphors not only for the condition of modern medicine but of modern man." (New York magazine)
Just the strangeness of what is possible in the human brain
The memory loss of some of the people detailed in the book is very poignant.
Long, victorian descriptions of simple stories, sounding like the author just LOVES to "hear himself" in his mind
Fascinating, funny, tragic
The novelties of the stories, some of them almost unreal.
Tales of the subconscious
This book explores the backwaters of our lifes, with a plethora of anecdotes from real life. The author shows genuine compassion for his "cases", and unravels the stories with philosophical reflectiveness.
This was an excellent read if you are interested in the workings of the brain. It underscores how dependent we are on our physical being for our experience of the world. Makes it seem fagile.
Each story is told in a positive way. This positive look at the patients, in my opinion, adds a dimension to many "deficient" brain patients.
The Doctor because he looked at the full charter of the patient. He thought in more than clinical terms and really exhibited a true compassion for his patients and wanted to learn from each of them.
I never have time to listen to a book all in one setting. Most likely I will listen to this book several times. Typically I am driving, cleaning or doing some chore when I listen to a book. When I find one that has as much interesting detail as this I typically listen to it several times to make sure I have absorbed it all. I did thoroughly enjoy this book. I find the brain very fascinating.
I really liked the tone of the reader and found it very pleasant and relaxing.
While the actual stories and analysis are quite interesting. The writing style makes it sound like the author wants to be seen as a hyper-intellectual. Almost embarrassingly riddled with $10 words and obscure references. I wanted to continue listening to hear the stories but couldn't bear the pedantic style of the author.
I was excited to this this title finally on Audible. My wife had read it when it first came out and remembered loving it. We decided to listen to it on a long car ride. We barely made it through chapter 2 and we quit after that. The material is now very dated and has been surpassed by many newer titles in it's insights and medical information. The narrator was a downer as well. Don't bother.
I enjoyed the book itself, and I love Oliver Sacks, but this is one of the worst narrations I've heard on Audible. If you've ever heard Sacks, he sounds relaxed, conversational, and enthusiastic. Jonathan Davis sounds stuffy, monotonous, airless and slow. So slow! His total lack of enthusiasm is so much the opposite of Sacks I was shocked through the whole first hour of the book, and would have stopped if I didn't like the book so much. He reads the parts of the book that should be light and humorous no differently than the parts that are more somber. He sounds like the stereotype of a bad professor lecturing about something he doesn't care about any more, just to fill up some lecture time.
The narration and writing were what I struggled with the most. The stories themselves are naturally interesting but I found this book incredibly difficult to listen to.
The narration and writing made these naturally interesting stories seem dull and uninteresting for me.
Despite multiple attempts, including long trips in the car, I was unable to finish this book. Indeed, even when there was nothing else available to listen to on some of those longer trips in the car (no radio, etc.), I had to turn it off.
No probably not.
No probably not.
It was clinical and didn't "grab" me like most audiobooks do.
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