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Awakenings Paperback – Nov 13 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada; 1 Reprint edition (Nov. 13 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307398153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307398154
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

It hardly seems fair that so many great doctors are also great writers. Perhaps it's qualities like sensitivity, craft, and dedication that keep physicians like Oliver Sacks in hospitals all day and at writing desks all night; if nothing else, these qualities shine in books like Awakenings. This powerful set of case histories rises above its pathological foundation to find new literary territory, a medical-spiritual synthesis equally stimulating for the mind and the soul. It's no wonder Hollywood producers chose to turn it into a feature film--anyone can see the universal human struggle against bondage and despair in these pages.

The sleeping-sickness epidemic of 1918 caused hundreds of survivors to slip into a bizarre rigid paralysis with similarities to advanced Parkinson's disease. These patients, only occasionally able to communicate or move, were nearly all institutionalized for life, their ranks increasing every now and then with similarly afflicted men and women. Sacks came to work at a long-term care facility shortly before the first exciting results with L-dopa and Parkinson's in the late 1960s; his patients soon embarked on dramatic, difficult recoveries from up to 50 years of torpor. He documents their spiritual and medical obstacles with great care to portray their individual personalities, long suppressed but finally released. Though many great doctors are also great writers, few can compare with Oliver Sacks for expressing the relation of medicine to the human spirit. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

"One of the most beautifully composed and moving works of our time." —The Washington Post

"Compulsively readable. . . . Dr. Sacks writes beautifully and with exceptional subtlety and penetration into both the state of mind of his patients and the nature of illness generally. . . . A brilliant and humane book." —A. Alvarez, The Observer

"[Sacks] opens to the reader doors of perception generally passed through only by those at the far borders of human experience." —The Boston Globe

"A masterpiece." —W. H. Auden

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Oliver Sacks has elevated the case history in Awakenings to a literary art form of the highest kind. A neurologist in charge of a ward of people left high and dry by the 1918 flu epidemic which left them in a profound catatonic state, an extreme form of Parkinson's, he experiments on his patients with a new wonder drug L-Dopa which proves a mixed blessing for them. Some are awakened to brilliant life for a brief time, but most of them are doomed either to revert to their original condition or to die (several know they are going to die and announce the fact). Dr. Sacks (who looks quite demonic on the cover photo) uses his medical powers to change lives with a high-handedness that is almost Faustian. The effects are so extraordinary and strange that some of these stories read like the finest fantasy. All the stories are wonderfully strange, proving that human consciousness is many-faceted and that what we label "disease" may be merely a new avenue of perception. Some of these people perform acts not only bizarre but improbable, showing an unusual level of vitality and no ordinary degree of power.Read more ›
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By A Customer on May 14 2001
Format: Paperback
The 20th Century has ended, and we can look back on this famous classic with perhaps a better perspective. It in its own way has moved mountains of ignorance. It brought life to not only the patients in the book, but millions of neurologically impared patients in the world. It explained, along with the great movie 'Awakenings', how one could live but not really have complete life. This is a tragedy the medical profession must continue to confront with better research and treatment. Oliver Sacks originally wanted to be a researcher, but it was not in his destiny. What he became, as documented in this book, was a unique facilitator of science. He became a truly unique being that has blessed our humanity.
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Format: Paperback
One of the things I find most striking about Oliver Sacks is his humanity. I find myself instilled with his sense of compassion and understanding by reading his cases.
Awakenings succeeds at being accessible to both the layperson and professional, and captivating both. There is a glossary to familiarize yourself with neurological terminology, but again the book isn't overtly prolix; rather a gripping account of neurological maladies.
Through Mr.Sack's these patients have received a certain immortality; a sense that their suffering has not been in vain, but tremendously valuable, not only to the advancement of neurology but as testament to the inherent strength and resolve in us all.
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By tzefirah on Feb. 23 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the true story of a group of very sick people permanently living in a hospital. They have an amazing semi-recovery due to some drug experimentation, but there is no lasting or long-term recovery.
Unlike the movie, there is no love story, and the Leonard character is not a lovable hero. But the book is well written, and the medical ramifications are clearly explained for the lay-person.
I recommend this, and all of Oliver Sacks' books, highly.
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Format: Paperback
I believe this book is a great book to read for the following reasons:
1. It explains in great detail, an event that stock the world, in the summer of 1969.
2. This book has detailed decribtions of the patients with the Parkinsonism disease.
3. And, if anyone has ever seen the movie Awakenings with Robin Williams, this book is worth having because it is the REAL doctor which Robin Williams plays, that is the author to this great book!
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