Oliver Sacks Awakenings

ISBN 13: 9780330523677

Awakenings

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9780330523677: Awakenings
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'The story of a disease that plunged its victims into a prison of viscous time, and the drug that catapulted them out of it' Guardian

Hailed as a medical classic, and the subject of a major feature film as well as radio and stage plays and various TV documentaries, Awakenings by Oliver Sacks is the extraordinary account of a group of twenty patients. Rendered catatonic by the sleeping-sickness epidemic that swept the world just after the First World War, all twenty had spent forty years in hospital: motionless and speechless; aware of the world around them, but exhibiting no interest in it - until Dr Sacks administered the then-new drug, L-DOPA, which caused them, temporarily, to awake from their decades-long slumber.

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Review:

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 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 institutionalised 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 and 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

Review:

A brilliant and humane book., Observer

Not only a collection of astonishing case histories, Awakenings is also a memoir, a moral essay and a romance. It is a work of genius., Washington Post

It makes you aware of what a knife edge we live on. -- Doris Lessing

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