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Publisher's Summary

Like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, this is a fascinating voyage into a strange and wonderful land, a provocative meditation on communication, biology, adaptation, and culture. In Seeing Voices, Oliver Sacks turns his attention to the subject of deafness, and the result is a deeply felt portrait of a minority struggling for recognition and respect - a minority with its own rich, sometimes astonishing, culture and unique visual language, an extraordinary mode of communication that tells us much about the basis of language in hearing people as well. Seeing Voices is, as Studs Terkel has written, "an exquisite, as well as revelatory, work".

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

©1989, 1990 Oliver Sacks (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This book will shake your preconceptions about the deaf, about language and about thought…. Sacks [is] one of the finest and most thoughtful writers of our time." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
"Fascinating and richly rewarding…. Sacks is a profoundly wise observer." (The Plain Dealer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A Rich Experience

What I expected when I purchased this book was what one usually gets in an Oliver Sacks book: a neurological examination of a form of perception. In fact, I thought it was a book about synesthesia (especially given the title). It is, rather, a rich and detailed history of the treatment (and, far too often mistreatment) of deafness in the Western world. I highly recommend this book not only for fans of Oliver Sacks who will enjoy this change of pace from this usual fare (which is, I must insist, itself quite good on the whole) but also for those who wish to understand the richness and challenges of the deaf community and the challenges that have faced them in Western culture for the past four hundred years.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating Brain Science

From the author who has written many other books on the brain, this book is about how pre-lingual deafness differs from those who learned a spoken language before they lost their ability to hear. The connections of language to thought, the mis-assumptions of hearing people and the impact of using sign language has on the brain are wrapped together in a free-flowing, almost stream of consciousness. There were some bits that were technical enough so that I would like to re-read them. Most, however, was very understandable by the amateur.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful and awakening

Any additional comments?

I've listened to all of Oliver's medical books, but overlooked Seeing voices again and again. "What's interesting about deafness?" I'd ask myself, and put it off. Just after Oliver died, I got this book as well. I found myself as he described himself; finding deafness uninteresting, thinking of sign language as not a language, but pantomime of sorts and thinking of the deaf as "handicapped". <br/><br/> I listened in wonder as if a veil was pulled back exposing a culture of it's own due completely to having it's own unique language and way of perceiving. This is such a fascinating book I listened in two sittings and wanted it to be twice as long, although I don't know what else he could cover. <br/><br/> If, like myself, you've been eyeing this one, go ahead and get it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Arturo
  • Zapopan, Mexico
  • 04-28-14

Fascinating

I found this book to be really a matter of discovery. Discovery of a world of the deaf which lays hidden for most people. Sacks does a great job describing their culture, their language, their friction with a hearing society and the sometimes superhuman skills they acquire without sound.
A great experience on what is like to be human and experience the world in a way most of us never will. Davis' performance is excellent, and the foreword and afterword by Sacks himself is greatly welcomed.
I highly recommend it to anyone as a juicy first-taste into a much bigger topic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great concise book

need to read this for class. decided to listen on audiobook before class starts. had a great time, it really blew my mind learning about the minds of deaf people.

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short but fun

i really enjoyed this book because it has the typical knowledge and great storytelling sacks is known for. it also as usual includes his own take on the subject matter with insights and understanding

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  • Mr. M. G. Helliwell
  • 09-20-16

Didn't enjoy it as much as his other books

I didn't like this as much as his other books I've read, I don't know if it was because it was an audio book or if it was the book itself. The subject matter was interesting but suffered from a couple of things:
1. A lack of examples. When talking about the spatial grammar of sign, for example, it would've been really helpful to have a description of some of the features so I can visualise them.
2. It was just too wordy in parts. There was an excess of adjectives.

The narration was ok, but it sometimes felt like the narrator was quoting passages rather than reading a book.