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The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery | [Sam Kean]

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery

Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: Wait for misfortune to strike - strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents - and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. With the lucid, masterful explanations and razor-sharp wit his fans have come to expect, Kean explores the brain's secret passageways.
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Publisher's Summary

The author of the best seller The Disappearing Spoon reveals the secret inner workings of the brain through strange-but-true stories.

Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: Wait for misfortune to strike - strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents - and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. Parents suddenly couldn't recognize their own children. Pillars of the community became pathological liars. Some people couldn't speak but could still sing.

In The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, Sam Kean travels through time with stories of neurological curiosities: Phantom limbs, Siamese twin brains, viruses that eat patients' memories, blind people who see through their tongues. He weaves these narratives together to create a story of discovery that reaches back to the 1500s and the high-profile jousting accident that inspired this book's title.* With the lucid, masterful explanations and razor-sharp wit his fans have come to expect, Kean explores the brain's secret passageways and recounts the forgotten tales of the ordinary people whose struggles, resilience, and deep humanity made neuroscience possible.

*"The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons" refers to the case of French king Henri II, who in 1559 was lanced through the skull during a joust, resulting in one of the most significant cases in neuroscience history. For hundreds of years scientists have gained important lessons from traumatic accidents and illnesses, and such misfortunes still represent their greatest resource for discovery.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.


©2014 Sam Kean (P)2014 Hachette Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (197 )
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  •  
    Kenn 08-16-14
    Kenn 08-16-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Facinating and engaging"
    Where does The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was one of my favorite books to listen to. The story is told with humour and a keen eye to the incredible reality of these tales.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The depth of the stories told. They were all so very facinating.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roberta 07-31-14
    Roberta 07-31-14 Member Since 2014

    Vassar graduate, living in Mexico and retired.

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    "witty, delightful and informative"

    Nonfiction works like this keep me hooked on audio books. The Narrator does an outstanding job. The material is scientific, but the author adds fascinating history and amusing anecdotes to make it interesting and humorous. The Narrator captures every bit of the humor with just the right timing and delivery.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 05-06-15
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 05-06-15 Member Since 2015

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

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    "Detailed but not overly Technical"

    This book comes with a PDF, but it is not too critical to the book. There are little puzzles for each chapter that involves piecing together pictures, letters, and sounds to form a hidden word or phrase, which are mentioned at the start of each chapter, and are mildly interesting but not at all necessary for understanding the material. There are also pictures of where the various parts of the brain are, but again, interesting but not critical.

    The book is written for the layman and not overly technical. It covers a bunch on interesting neurological case studies, most of which have been covered in other books. However, Kean does an excellent job of research, and exposition, getting to the essence of the case studies without too much technical detail. I tend to like a lot of technical detail, but I enjoyed this book quite a bit anyway. The stories are interesting, and a number of details that were misreported elsewhere are corrected and clarified here.

    The author has a quite graphic style (some might say too graphic). The book is often discussing in vivid detail oozing, infected, dissected, projected, extracted, rotting brain tissue. This did not bother me, but it may be more than some listeners would expect.

    If you don’t mind a little grossness, I think most listeners will enjoy this book and at least get something to think about.

    The narration is excellent, very upbeat and high energy, without being sappy.

    There are other books on this subject, that I think I learned more from, but none that I enjoyed more, plus this made several subtle, yet important, points not presented elsewhere and corrected commonly misreported stories that I thought I knew.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela 07-27-14
    Angela 07-27-14
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    "Outstanding!!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons the most enjoyable?

    There are very few books that merit a 5 star rating. There are even fewer narrations of books that deserve 5 star ratings. This book is that delicious juxtaposition of incredible narration and tight, well-paced writing.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I disliked that it ended so soon. I also wish the author had delved further into some of the cases to give the reader a deeper glimpse into the patients' regular lives


    What about Henry Leyva’s performance did you like?

    Excellent, well-paced narration. Neither breathy nor dramatic, Mr Leyva imparted just the right gravitas for the subject matter.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Other than a documentary, this book wouldn't translate into film.


    Any additional comments?

    This author and narrator have an excellent thing going. I hope they work together in future, and that the author write more on this topic. The author makes the subject matter accessible to regular minds like mine.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gotta Tellya Santa Rosa, CA 10-28-14
    Gotta Tellya Santa Rosa, CA 10-28-14 Member Since 2013

    KEC

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    "Fascinating history of neurological discovery"
    What did you love best about The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons?

    I liked the tie-ins between real, individual historical cases of illness and those who discovered the neurological causes of those problems, developing treatments along the way through the process of experimentation, of trial and error.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons?

    Too many to list. I was fascinated by each case and by the doctors and scientists who treated the patients, developing theories of why they were ill and pioneering treatments to aleviate their conditions.


    What about Henry Leyva’s performance did you like?

    So well read! His narration was excellent and held my attention throughout.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Mapping the Maze of the Brain.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this audio book twice before moving on to anything else. The book is rich with insights into the structure and operation of the brain, told in an historical context. It describes the eons during which little at all was known about the complex organ lodged between our ears and moves forward in time through illuminating cases and discoveries. This book should be of interest to those who are medically inclined as well as to anyone curious about the brain and how it works.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traci VERNON, NJ, United States 10-16-14
    Traci VERNON, NJ, United States 10-16-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Kept me engaged for its entirety"

    I was a fan of "The violinist's thumb," by Sam Kean so I was happy he had another book I could listen to. This isn't a light "read" for it goes into details about the human brain that might otherwise get lost if you're not paying close attention at parts. Many of his stories kept me listening, (I commute long distances) sometimes while sitting in my driveway. If you have any interest in the subject, I'd recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pony Atlanta 08-30-14
    Pony Atlanta 08-30-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Delightful and Educational"

    Same Kean provided another work full of science and history and wonderful story telling. Great case stories and he is able to fully develop historial figures in these case stories. Anybody who is learning about neuroscience should enjoy it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    stepan 01-04-15
    stepan 01-04-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Brilliant book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Author introduce important concepts of neuroscience through amazing stories that are interesting on their own. I think final chapters are bit messy, but overall LIKE VERY MUCH!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawn Macgregor 12-27-14
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    "Non fiction at its best."

    A lovely listen brilliant research and perfectly read. Highly recommended.

    I am ready for next Sam Kean.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael__v brooklyn, ny United States 12-20-14
    michael__v brooklyn, ny United States 12-20-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons to be better than the print version?

    Dont have the print


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    All


    Have you listened to any of Henry Leyva’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Great topic, great stories and great narration! The time flew listening to this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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