The individual case studies in this book were incredibly interesting, but Sacks, I think, has an ego problem that emerges when he spouts his technical medi-speak. That seriously detracts from any enjoyment one can derive from the book.
I first heard about this book when the author, Oliver Sacks, did an interview on NPR (National Public Radio). He had many interesting things to say, including the story that forms the title of this book. Upon reading the story, I was struck by the fact that the retelling of the story has a different tone than the actual printed version: neither bad nor good, just different. Dr. Sacks gave himself a far more active role in the radio version than in the printed version.
Overall, the book's stories are fascinating. However.....a big However: the author writes with a very clinical tone. I've been in the medical field for 22 years and found the going rather heavy at times. The typical layperson will probably do a lot more skimming through the tough stuff, but all in all, it is a fascinating look at what can go wrong in the human mind, yet life goes on.
Another note: The first copyright of this book is 1971; therefore, today's reader may encounter various terms (as applied to race and mental illness) which may be somewhat offensive. Keep in mind that context is everything!
V. N. (verrby) reviewed The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat : And Other Clinical Tales on
Helpful Score: 3
Oliver Sacks is a neurologist that has chronicled patient studies in a very readable, literary way. His attention to humane detail makes his books (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and An Anthopologist on Mars, in particular) true literature, so much more than dry medical reports. A deep kindness and fondness for humanity in all its magnificient oddity runs through his writing. Included are portraits of people with autism, Tourette's, Parkinson's, etc.
I thought this book was very interesting, though it did get kind of wordy and weighed down by the details at parts. A litle lighter and more entertaining then An Anthropologist on Mars, but if you've read and liked any of Oliver Sacks' other books, I'm sure you'll like this one too.
The copy of this book that I am listing is softcover, not hardcover. It also may be considered a large-print edition, although it is not so labeled. The print is smaller than I have seen in other books labeled large-print, but I would guess it is 14- or 16-point, certainly larger than used in most books.
I FINALLY finished this book after starting it in like January (it's June now). I think it was difficult to read because 1) I kept reading it at bedtime and thus fell asleep during it 2) it was heavy on the clinical terms and references at times 3) it was a collection of different stories so I didn't feel compelled to finish it since each time I read one story, I read it from beginning to end. I still enjoyed it though and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the field of psychology.
Extremely interesting accounts by a doctor of neurological patients who present with very unusual symptoms. The stories are somewhat sad, but are definitely compelling; they make you marvel at how the human mind can take a turn for the worse.
Dr. Sacks' books are fascinating due to the subject. The allow us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired. His book Awakenings was made into a movie. The 20 stories in this book are remarkable. He tells them with insight and compassion and in a moving way.
If you like this book, you probably would like his story of Temple Grandin, a woman who earned a graduate degree and designs humane slaughter buildings. It is also fascinating story of autism.
Somewhat interesting look at various forms of neurological disorders. This book provides several case histories of people who are afflicted with intellectual aberrations. These include the titular tale of a man who could no longer recognize faces and indeed mistook his wife for a hat. There was also an interesting case of a man who lost all of his present memories but could remember everything from 1945 and previously. Then there are the autistics and idiot savants who are mentally deficient but who have amazing mathematical or artistic abilities. This included a pair of twins who could tell you the day of the week of any date within the next or previous 40,000 years. They could also determine prime numbers over ten digits long. (Sacks mentioned that Robert Silverberg had included a character like the twins in one of his sci-fi novels, Thorns. I have a copy of this on my TBR stack that I now want to read sooner.)
Overall, this was an interesting look at these mental conditions but Sacks sometimes bogged down the prose with a lot of medical jargon that I had a hard time understanding. And I sometimes skimmed some of this just to get finished.
The brain is fascinating! Oliver Sacks has a down-to-earth writing style that makes this book readable and riveting. The only thing is that since it is an older book, the language is dated and would be offensive by today's standards. (Idiot, retarded, etc.) But again, those were terms used at that time. The people he studies are so interesting and some even lovable. There are things that happen to the brain that I didn't know were possible!