am 16. März 1998
Oliver Sacks has a rare gift for sharing his professional interest with readers/listeners and entertaining us as we learn. As the title "An Anthropologist on Mars" implies, his world is filled with oddities of human nature, made to appear more human than odd by Sacks sensitive storytelling.
I first visited the world of Oliver Sacks in 1987 when "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" arrived at the local library. His ability to simplify challenging patient histories made clinical neurology fascinating. With this new volume he returns to familiar territory.
The added bonus of listening to Sacks read his own work is quite intimate. Particularly when he shares the story of Temple Grandin, an autistic professor unable to tolerate human touch but instinctively comforting animals, and sharing her ability with the meat industry, a group not traditionally thought of as sensitive.
While listening to these "Paradoxical Tales", Oliver Sacks transports his audience to a world both unfamiliar and captivating. A place we may not wish to live, but hard to resist visiting.
am 22. Mai 2000
I received "An Anthropologist on Mars" as a Christmas gift, and, having never been very interested in psychology, was hesistant to pick it up at first. After reading the first chapter (on an artist who goes color blind), however, I was hooked.
Each of the seven amazing accounts of different neurological disorders kept me more than interested; I found the author's details and descriptions of the his subjects absolutely fascinating. In addition, the separate stories are different enough to provide variety, but are similar enough in the way they are presented and written about to maintain contingency throughout the book.
Again, without knowing a lot about psychology, one can read this book and get a lot out of it. It's really, really interesting (and fun!) stuff, and it gets you to think. Overall, a great book.
am 27. November 1996
So you thought that a mental illness is devastating, debilitating, and tragic? Well think again.
Oliver Sacks delivers a new interpretation of mentall disorders: one of a gift. An autistic woman uses her lack of emotional contact with humans to tap into the psyche of cows. The suddenly color-blind artist starts to paint in black and white.
In seven amazing stories, Sacks, in his clear, human, introspective, and funny story telling, gives as enough reason to re-evaluate our view of mental disabilities. His book is both a celebration of life and a testament to the triumph of the human spirit.
In a time when tolerance and diversity are political buzzwords, Oliver Sacks gives us concrete reasons to apply those words. This book is simply incredible.
am 9. Oktober 1997
The description of clinical cases is not the commonest idea of a 'good time', especially for non-medical population. The usually dry and technically difficult prose plus the obscurity of the subject, provokes, even in accustomed mind of the physician, an unwillingness to proceed past the first 10 pages. I'm happy to say that, as usual, Sacks combines the well honed mind of a academician with the verve of a true stroryteller, and manages to produce a book at once acessible and challenging. The capacity to observe the patient as a different form of human being, instead of as just an 'interesting case', is a true insight into what Medicine should be; furthermore, as the author insistently teaches, neurological diseases differ from other ailments in that they become a true portion of the persona, and ,in a sense, they belong to the patient, whereas most people consider disease to be something that 'happens' to them, an outside influence not to be confused with the true Self. In every way, this book should be required reading for all neurologists - and physicians in general - , but let that not deter you from reading, and enjoying it: it is a truly acessible and moving book, and teaches us all something about the diversity and depths of the human kind.
am 1. Januar 1999
With the format and style of the earlier "The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat", each chapter describing a patient suffering from a particularly unusual and often spectacular neurological disorder, Sacks successfully shows how poor our understanding of the functioning of our own minds really is. More than ever his primary focus is the human aspect of mental affliction, the emotional trauma involved, presumably so he can appeal to a wider audience. I feel that the earlier book actually has the best material and is certainly a better choice if picking one title. Though the cases in "The Anthropologist" are hardly dull, it does seem a little long winded and repetitive in places - is he paid by the page? Perhaps others would disagree, but I would prefer to see more of the clinical speculation and brain-function theorizing. This is my only criticism for what is for the most part provocative and illuminating reading.
am 5. September 1997
Before he even begins, Sacks tells us where we're going with a quote attributed to William Osler: "Ask not what disease the person has, but rather what person the disease has."
In each chapter, Dr. Sacks introduces us to another person who happens to have some neurological disoder or difficulty, including autism, colorblindness, regaining of sight after 40 years, and Tourette's syndrome. The chapters are less about the disorders than they are about the people who live with the disorders.
We learn through Sack's accounts that humans are capable of amazing adaption and often can conquer afflictions that one would think inconquerable. The lives of Sacks' "persons who the diseases have" is often lived out far more fully than the reader would imagine. Perhaps our lives, too, can be lived out beyond our perceived limitations.
am 5. Februar 1999
The book describes how seven people with serious disorders live creative and/or happy lives. It is fascinating how they adapt to their mental and physical problems and are satisfied with their lives. Some of the case studies focus on patients who have had problems since early childhood, while others focus on patients who developed the problems late in live. One case study shows how restoring partial eyesight to a patient who had been blind since early childhood completely destroyed his adaptive behavior and did not result in a happier life for him. If I had read a novel in which the characters were modelled after the people in this book, I would have considered the novel a fantasy. This book definitely expanded my understanding of human behavior.
am 15. April 1999
Yet again, Oliver Sacks gives us a new perspective of the human brain by studying its malfunction; he simultaneously gives us an appreciation of the adaptability and power of the human being when confronted with adversity. The people he observes exhibit various capabilities in addressing their disorders, but he manages to show that their personality survives, bruises and warts and all. He even manages a quick history of the prefrontal lobotomy, perhaps the most disturbing "medical" procedure created in this century. His portrait of Temple Grandin, the "anthropologist" of the title, is rich and faithful to her character. A wonderful work.
am 21. Februar 1999
I've read some of his prior works and always leave with the same sense of awe he admonishes. Thats his gift - he can talk to us. So what if hes kind of dumb (which he is); Sacks frames knowledge in an easy grasp. In AN ANTHROPOLOGIST ON MARS, Dr. Sacks performs magic on pages 24-26. I bet he doesn't even know it. You don't have to buy it. Just go to the store/library and read pages 24-26. COLOUR MY WORLD!
am 21. Juni 1996
Just to describe the unusual would be freakish; what is
haunting about all of Sack's writing is that all of the people
he describes -- no matter how bizare or tragic -- have
a lot in common with us. These essays will make you think
about everyday actions -- simple things like reading these
words -- in a new way. These essays will also introduce
you to amazing people you will not forget.