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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 the Paperback edition.
"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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
If I had never read "The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat" before this book (both by the same author), I would have rated this as a five-star classic. Read morePublished on July 28 2002 by S. Hung
This Movie based on an excellent story by talented medical writes Dr. Sacks. It is about 2 hours movie descriping how the medication "L-dopa" helped Parkinson' s disease... Read morePublished on Nov. 21 2000 by Zeyad Morcos