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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales Audiobook

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales

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Audible Editor Reviews

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 In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the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 Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects.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

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (3233 )
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  •  
    Hesham Springfield Gardens, NY, United States 04-10-12
    Hesham Springfield Gardens, NY, United States 04-10-12

    A mechanical engineer with a masters in MBA. Love books and collect them but don't like to read much :( so trying to listen to them instead

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    "Intriguing"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. It is informational and exciting.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The thing I liked about this book is the way the writer presented it as he first gives his personal experience with the patient then goes into the details of the science of the case.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite scene is the story of the title about the guy who mistook his wife for a hat.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne Matthews, NC 02-25-17
    Wayne Matthews, NC 02-25-17 Member Since 2017

    I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11796
    ratings
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    1815
    1453
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    4
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    Story
    "Anecdotal tales of human brain abnormalities"

    In this 1985 book physician Oliver Sacks tells many strange anecdotal short stories of illnesses of the brain and their impacts on individual lives and behaviors. Some of the stories were undated in 2008 with brief author's post scripts. The title of the book is taken from the first short story.

    My major issue with this book is that it is dry and often boring. The boring aspects become worse in the second half of the book. It is also seriously technologically decades out of date.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Rockland, ME, United States 10-29-13
    Brad Rockland, ME, United States 10-29-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ratings
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    1
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    "Terrible narrator, opposite of Sacks himself"
    What didn’t you like about Jonathan Davis and Oliver Sacks (Introduction) ’s performance?

    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.


    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen 05-06-17
    Karen 05-06-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wish I'd read this on hard copy"
    Any additional comments?

    Fascinating stuff, but a bit too complicated for listening in the car. On paper I would have been able to stop to look up the unfamiliar terms (mnesis and gnosis, anyone?) and to pause to ponder some of the rich philosophy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel C. Goss maryland 05-05-17
    Rachel C. Goss maryland 05-05-17 Member Since 2016

    rcgsunshine

    ratings
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    8
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    "Always enlightening"

    I have yet to have a low experience reading the words of Dr Sacks. Would have been a privledge to have shaken his hand. Brilliant, empathetic, inspiring

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    castironcook Utah United States 05-01-17
    castironcook Utah United States 05-01-17 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    2
    Overall
    "Personal, moving stories that fascinate and inspire."

    This is one of the best books I have listened to in a year. He brings marginalized lives to fill bloom.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CEDRIC LITTMAN 04-10-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    2
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    Story
    "Written with sensitivity"

    Not sure if meaningful or, and this is not my criticism, a kind of freak show. Clearly written with sensitivity for the cases but the book would have been much better with a conclusion. As a listen it is entertaining

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David D. Schneider 04-10-17 Member Since 2017

    Shiloh Bound Doc! University of Iowa graduate. Iowa Writer's Workshop fan. Hawkeye Fan! Believer. Husband. Father. Physician.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    188
    159
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    "Only if you're deep into the pathophysiology of brain function. . . 😱"

    Somewhat entertaining but this book is not really trying to be entertaining -- despite the title. It is a collection of a doctor's lifetime "bests" interesting patients encountered during his career. But his presentation is often droll and his case presentations often filled with loquacious musings that leave the listener asking one of two questions:
    1) What is the point?, and/or 2) When is this going to end?
    ____________________________________________________
    _5 stars is great (I rarely give this rating).
    4 stars is good (given only to interesting and well-written books).
    3 stars is OK (the usual listen I encounter on Audible).
    2 stars is poor (and not worth the credit or the listen).
    1 star is awful (and to be diss'ed and shunned and spread as thus through out the Audible Universe)!
    😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ty 03-30-17
    ty 03-30-17 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    4
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    Story
    "We will miss you Dr. Sacks"

    Johnathan Davis is such a great reader and absolutely nailed the feeling of this book. And Dr. Sacks is such a descriptive writer, we could all learn a lot by pondering and asking the questions he brings up in this book. He has a beautiful and kindly out look on life, and mental disorders. He is open minded and listens to his patients his ideal view of modern medicine is the next step,The world would be a much better place if there were a few more doctors like him in the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susannah R. Austin, TX USA 03-23-17
    Susannah R. Austin, TX USA 03-23-17 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
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    Overall
    "Extraordinary Insight"

    This book is filled with examples of searching and sometimes finding beautiful inner lives, abilities and environments where these florish for many people witha variety of mentally disabilities. Oliver Sack has soul and wisdom.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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