Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Long before oliver sacks became a distinguished neurologist and bestselling writer, he was a small English boy fascinated by metals–also by chemical reactions the louder and smellier the better, photography, squids and cuttlefish, H. G. Wells, and the periodic table. We follow the young oliver as he is exiled at the age of six to a grim, sadistic boarding school to escape the London Blitz, and later watch as he sets about passionately reliving the exploits of his chemical heroes–in his own home laboratory.

In this endlessly charming and eloquent memoir, the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings chronicles his love affair with science and the magnificently odd and sometimes harrowing childhood in which that love affair unfolded. In uncle tungsten we meet sacks’ extraordinary family, a family doctor who imbues in his son an early enthusiasm for housecalls, to his “Uncle Tungsten, from his surgeon mother who introduces the fourteen-year-old Oliver to the art of human dissection and his father, ” whose factory produces tungsten-filament lightbulbs.

Uncle tungsten is a crystalline view of a brilliant young mind springing to life, comic, a story of growing up which is by turns elegiac, and wistful, full of the electrifying joy of discovery.

Seeing Voices

Like the man who mistook his wife for a hat, a provocative meditation on communication, this is a fascinating voyage into a strange and wonderful land, biology, adaptation, and culture. In seeing voices, oliver sacks turns his attention to the subject of deafness, sometimes astonishing, culture and unique visual language, and the result is a deeply felt portrait of a minority struggling for recognition and respect--a minority with its own rich, an extraordinary mode of communication that tells us much about the basis of language in hearing people as well.

Seeing voices is, as well as revelatory, "an exquisite, as Studs Terkel has written, work. ".

The Island of the Colorblind

Out of an unexpected journey, sacks has woven an unforgettable narrative which immerses us in the romance of island life, and shares his own compelling vision of the complexities of being human. For him, the adventure of magellan and Cook, islands conjure up equally the romance of Melville and Stevenson, and the scientific wonder of Darwin and Wallace.

Drawn to the tiny pacific atoll of pingelap by intriguing reports of an isolated community of islanders born totally color-blind, Sacks finds himself setting up a clinic in a one-room island dispensary, where he listens to these achromatopic islanders describe their colorless world in rich terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow.

. Oliver sacks has always been fascinated by islands--their remoteness, their mystery, above all the unique forms of life they harbor. And on guam, where he goes to investigate the puzzling neurodegenerative paralysis endemic there for a century, amid crowing cockerels, an island neurologist, for a brief time, making house calls with his colleague John Steele, cycad jungles, he becomes, and the remains of a colonial culture.

The islands reawaken sacks's lifelong passion for botany--in particular, the genesis of disease, the dissemination of species, for the primitive cycad trees, whose existence dates back to the Paleozoic--and the cycads are the starting point for an intensely personal reflection on the meaning of islands, and the nature of deep geologic time.


On the Move: A Life

Auden, Gerald M. When oliver sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far. It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, where he struggled with drug addiction, first in California, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life.

With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions—weight lifting and swimming—also drives his cerebral passions. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. Luria, W.

R. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his guilt over leaving his family to come to America; his bond with his schizophrenic brother; and the writers and scientists—Thom Gunn, A. On the move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer—and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.

H. Edelman, francis Crick—who influenced him.

A Leg to Stand On

Sacks with a severe leg injury, he becomes the patient. The author of twelve books, the man who mistook his wife For a Hat, Musicophilia, and Hallucinations, including the bestselling Awakenings, Oliver Sacks is internationally renowned for his compassionate approach to patients affected by profound neurological disorders.

Yet when an accident on an uninhabited mountain in Norway leaves Dr. In a leg to stand On, one of Dr. During what should have been a routine recovery period, he experiences an overwhelming sensation that his injured leg is now absent from his body, and indeed from his physical awareness. Sacks’ most personal works, this disturbing experience is the starting point of a fascinating journey through the mysteries of perception, the physical substance of our identities, and the experience of being a patient.


An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

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



Portrayals of these uncanny states have found their way into many works of art, from the heavenly visions of Hildegard von Bingen to Alice in Wonderland. Among the most compelling and perplexing of these symptoms are the strange visual hallucinations and distortions of space, time, and body image which migraineurs sometimes experience.

Oliver sacks argues that migraine cannot be understood simply as an illness, but must be viewed as a complex condition with a unique role to play in each individual's life. The many manifestations of migraine can vary dramatically from one patient to another, even within the same patient at different times.



Oliver sacks gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, "awakening" effect. Dr. Frozen for decades in a trance-like state, these men and women were given up as hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of his patients, their lives, and the extraordinary transformations which went with their reintroduction to a changed world.

Awakenings--which inspired the major motion picture--is the remarkable story of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I.

The Mind's Eye

And there is Dr. There is lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, and Sue, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person’s eyes, or another person’s mind.

In the mind’s eye, the ability to read, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the sense of sight.

Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes—people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by “tongue vision. He also considers more fundamental questions: how do we see? how do we think? how important is internal imagery—or vision, although writing is only five thousand years old, seemingly innate, humans have a universal, for that matter? Why is it that, potential for reading? The Mind’s Eye is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation.

. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world. There is pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, and Howard, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read.

Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side.

The River of Consciousness

From the best-selling author of gratitude, time, a collection of essays that displays Oliver Sacks's passionate engagement with the most compelling and seminal ideas of human endeavor: evolution, and Musicophilia, consciousness, memory, On the Move, creativity, and experience. Oliver sacks, a scientist and a storyteller, face blindness, Tourette's syndrome, An Anthropologist on Mars in which he introduced and explored many now familiar disorders--autism, is beloved by readers for the extraordinary neurological case histories Awakenings, savant syndrome.

. The river of consciousness is one of two books sacks was working on up to his death, and his unceasing, his sheer joy in knowledge, and it reveals his ability to make unexpected connections, timeless project to understand what makes us human. Sacks, the history of science, an oxford-educated polymath, had a deep familiarity not only with literature and medicine but with botany, animal anatomy, chemistry, philosophy, and psychology.

He was also a memoirist who wrote with honesty and humor about the remarkable and strange encounters and experiences that shaped him Uncle Tungsten, On the Move, Gratitude.


Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition.

 . Humans have always sought such life-changing visions, and for thousands of years have used hallucinogenic compounds to achieve them. People with migraines may see shimmering arcs of light or tiny, Lilliputian figures of animals and people. Those who are bereaved may receive comforting “visits” from the departed.

These, along with his early migraine experiences, launched a lifelong investigation into the varieties of hallucinatory experience. People with failing eyesight, paradoxically, may become immersed in a hallucinatory visual world. Here, with his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Dr. In some conditions, hallucinations can lead to religious epiphanies or even the feeling of leaving one’s own body.

Hallucinations can be brought on by a simple fever or even the act of waking or falling asleep, when people have visions ranging from luminous blobs of color to beautifully detailed faces or terrifying ogres. Have you ever seen something that wasn’t really there? Heard someone call your name in an empty house? Sensed someone following you and turned around to find nothing? Hallucinations don’t belong wholly to the insane.

Much more commonly, they are linked to sensory deprivation, intoxication, illness, or injury.