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Publisher's Summary

To these seven narratives of neurological disorder, Dr. Sacks brings the same humanity, poetic observation, and infectious sense of wonder that are apparent in his best sellers Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. These men, women, and one extraordinary child emerge as brilliantly adaptive personalities, whose conditions have not so much debilitated them as ushered them into another reality.

PLEASE NOTE: Some changes have been made to the original manuscript with the permission of Oliver Sacks.

©1995 Oliver Sacks (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"True to his past work, he offers compelling stories told with the cognizance of a clinician and the heart and compassion of a poet." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Jeff
  • Pickering, Ontario, Canada
  • 09-22-13

SACKS IS AN ABSOLUTE JOY !!

. The jaw dropping stories in this book mated to Sack`s insight, sensitivity, and remarkable articulation are a balm for the soul and candy for the mind. His humanity and his remarkable ability to communicate the experiences of his patients and his own insight make him unique and unforgetable.

The underlying premise for all these cases which sacks brings to light- is the unusual and unforeseen positive path the disabilities of these patients and disabilities in general can (after breaking through) engender.

I am similar to those stories enclosed-in a way. 10 yrs ago I stepped out of the shower heard a crack and have been in terrible crippling disabling pain ever since. I went from being a very fit,strong and super active father of 2 very small boys to being bedridden and writhing in pain.. Things are marginally better now,but the point is- I started using audible books at the start because I couldnt do anything else-including tv. Audible books not only helped me endure the isolation, pain and loss of a way of life-it replaced my physical world with a mental one (generalization)-one in which I'm now relatively happy. This totally unexpected and unforeseen journey from one state of being to another positive state, is part of what is explored in this book. It is no exaggeration to say that audible books saved my life.

I'm not sure just where this book fits into his bibliography, I've read them as I've come across them. and have pretty much enjoyed them all. The narrator (Jonathan Davis) who has done most if not all his books when sacks hasn't done the work himself is utterly perfect, getting the tone, timing and inflection just right.

This book enriched my mind and soul,altered my perspective and relieved the mind numbing effect of a shockingly dumbed down world- at least for a few hours. Now that's credit worthy!!

42 of 42 people found this review helpful

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Dr. Sacks is Fascinating

Now I want to be a neurologist. Too bad my only qualifications are listening to Oliver Sacks' books... I would have been great!

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Julie
  • San Jose, CA, United States
  • 03-05-15

Enlightening and Inspiring

I really like listening to Oliver Sack's books; the narrators help bring the anecdotes to life and present the drier explanations of neurological anatomy and science clearly (and allow me to drift a bit, without completely skipping material which is fascinating, but fairly difficult).

This book focuses on the inspiring abilities of several individuals to live with and positively leverage potentially debilitating neurological disorders. While I've seen other material about Temple Grandin and Steven Wiltshire, I really appreciated the more in-depth and intimate information about how they and the other "Martians" in this book live, apply their exceptional talents, and face the existential challenge of being so very different in a society where "difference" is not understood, accommodated, or accepted.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Wonderfully unusual cases

Oliver sacks provides entertaining and informative stories of people living with various brain abnormalities. In this book, sacks focused on abnormalities that often compelled the individual to record their environment in extreme ways. For example, Sacks suggest maybe we are all hardwired for recording history, since our only tools for millions of years were our brains and voices, and we handed down an oral history of human existence, throughout the generations. However, in some individuals, the areas responsible for this are overly active, and often the other parts of the brain are under-active. This results in echolalia, a perfect recording of the environment that can be reproduced over and over, a perfect memory that can produce drawings of whole cities-- even years after the artist saw it, a replication of various sounds-- such as instruments, an obsession on preserving the past-- as with someone stuck in the past and unable to live in the present day.

Sacks also gives a wonderful account of his interviews and examinations of Temple Grandin. Instead of seeing her brain as defective, Sacks truly wants to understand how she might simply think differently. Even when Grandin herself views her brain as defective, it is clear Sacks is more interested in understanding the way her brain works than he is in judging if it's defective or not.

Sacks is an excellent writer. The pages flew by and in no time, the book was sadly over. I love him so much; time to start a new Sacks book.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Sachs The Scientist

Some readers complain of the overly metaphysical nature of Oliver Sachs' The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat (and I do agree that he seems to mistake, surprisingly often for such an educated man, "personality" for "the soul" in that book and that he does ramble a bit into the etheric realms in "Hat," clouding his scientific points.) For those, I would recommend Anthropologist on Mars. This is the best of Sachs, as he returns to what makes Awakenings so good to read: it brings complex medicine to the layman's terms (without dumbing down) and it includes the human element of neurology and neurological conditions without the threats of floating off into abstract philosophy as in "Hat."

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Too repetitive

The intro part goes on and on with repetitive information and you hear it first in the voice of Oliver Sacks and then most of the same stuff, some verbatim the same, in the voice of Jonathan Davis. All the case histories were interesting but I got bored about halfway through each one due to the repetition of observations.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Boring

The cases are interesting, but the author's description and analyses are long, wordy and boring.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 07-07-15

Humility and Deep Thought

I really enjoyed the open-ended style in which the author framed his understanding. From a basis of such extensive experience, he drew me along on an inquisitive journey of real and practical use to my life circumstances.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So many moving ideas

This book was so fascinating in both the variety and curiosity of the stories. It gave me a lot to think about in the way I deal with other people and how I relate to myself.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Brains

It isn't going to be for everyone, but it is an interesting look at 7 case studies of persons with exceptional brain problems, through accident, birth, or otherwise, and the exploration and examination of both the problem and the person.

I found it fascinating and highly enjoyable.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-07-14

Thoughtful, melancholy and inspiring

What did you like most about An Anthropologist on Mars?

Looks at some difficult and hard to talk about subjects in an often positive and uplifting light. Takes the line of some people being more 'different' than 'damaged' and often strives to see the best in these situations. You also get to feel very up close and personal to the people involved.

What did you like best about this story?

Person-centred outlook on neurological conditions.

Have you listened to any of Oliver Sacks and Jonathan Davis ’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. And very nearly did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sydney
  • 10-04-13

Wonderful as always

Oliver Sacks is hard to beat for fascinating, humane, and beautifully written stories of neurology and the human condition, and this book is full of the mix of sadness of wonder one expects. Docked a point for the reader, who is a little flat; what a shame it's not read by Sacks himself.