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Awakenings [Paperback]

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Medical Case histories as great art Dec 30 1999
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 S. Hung
Format:Paperback
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. Though as well written as the other work, this book presents his studies in a less humane, and more scientific way. Read the other work and one will sense the noticeable difference in the way that Dr. Sacks approached his patients. When reading the "Awakenings", I felt as a detached bystander looking through the windows of his clinic and observing the patients. When reading "The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat", I was so engaged by Dr. Sacks vivid descriptions of the patients, physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, that it was as if I was face-to-face with the patients, and that I was connected in some intrinsic way to each and every one of them. Please please read the other work as well as this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic May 14 2001
By A Customer
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling documentation May 3 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect the movie 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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