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Embracing the Wide Sky: A tour across the horizons of the mind Hardcover – 22 Jan 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (22 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340961325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340961322
  • Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 22.3 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 774,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Entertaining and informative about an impressive range of subjects . . . EMBRACING THE WIDE SKY is fun and inspirational (FT Weekend)

Packed with his clear summaries of fascinating experiments . . . Recent debate has bumped up this book from delightful to vital (Daily Telegraph)

What's remarkable is that Tammet's many wanderings always seem measured and logical. . . truly fascinating. (Guardian)

The book is full of information such as this, packed with his [Tammet's] clear summaries of fascinating experiments. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Far from a one-dimensional prodigy, his is a rich multi-textured intelligence. A beautiful mind. (Scotsman Magazine)

Book Description

A beautifully written and brilliant portrait of the human mind and the extraordinary potential within every one of us, by real-life Rain-Man and bestselling author of Born On A Blue Day - Daniel Tammet.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed Born on a Blue Day and the first few chapters of this book continue in the same vein: a charming and fascinating tour around the brain and its workings, this time looking at "normal" brains as much as Daniel's own, and expanding to include other writers' and scientist's views as well as Daniel's experiences. I have seen a lot of the content elsewhere and in places this book did seem to take claims at face value rather than critically evaluating them if they fitted with the author's world view.

The writing is straightforward and functional rather than inspired, but by no means dull or clunky. The concept of using autistic experiences to better understand non-autistic minds works well and there are some interesting ideas presenting in a simple and accessible pop-sci way.

Where it all started to fall apart for me was around Chapter 8 where the focus moved beyond the brain and started to look at wider social issues. In this section complex issues were addressed from a surprisingly elitist, simplistic and close-minded perspective which made for an irritating and uncomfortable read and ultimately spoiled a decent book. I've never enjoyed being told what to think, particularly where the basis is a gross over-simplification of a complex issue. To usefully understand our shades-of-grey world you need both intelligence, and the ability to tolerate ambuguity, and I think the latter is what is missing from this book and costs it a star or two.
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By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the second book from Daniel Tammet after his superb memoir `Born on a Blue Day' and whilst it is quite good, it is also lacking a certain something. Don't get me wrong, I found this interesting to read and it had some insightful moments in it, but it is decidedly unoriginal. In fact there is a huge overlap of information with another book I have read recently (`Bounce' By Matthew Syed) which was about sports achievement and excellence. This looks at our brains and how it functions and the outstanding feats it is capable of. The only problem is is that I have previously read virtually all of this information in other books about the brain. However, this is well written, although less intimate than his memoir and offers a unique insight into Daniels savant syndrome. This covers topics such as basic neuroscience, IQ tests, memory, language, number sense, creativity, perception, information in society, the benefits of thinking mathematically and the future of the human mind with insight into injury treatment and linking our minds with technology. There are some diagrams littered throughout to illustrate various points raised which help to clarify. If you haven't read any books about the brain then this will be deeply fascinating and engaging, but if, like me, you have already done some rudimentary reading on the nature and working of the brain then this book will feel slightly anticlimactic and a disappointment. Overall, this is an interesting introduction to our brain, but only for those who are new to the topic.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Daniel Tammet attempts to describe the nature of mind and manipulation of knowledge that his savantism masters with velocity that any general reader may understand and share. But I have to say that I believe that Mr Tammet wanted to write to a more erudite audience that a 'general reader' in a more technical way so that 'assumptions' such as the 'normal distribution' of population IQ scores on page 52 and yet the definition of onomatopoeia page 139 could work with a clearer understanding of a brain signal and brain function on signals which alludes all of us yet. If he works on it there might be a Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology. What he gives us is a romp through the more publicly available bits of psychology, OK if all you want is a quick tour.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A book about the mind will inevitably cover ideas you have seen elsewhere - don't think that because this book is written by someone on the autistic spectrum you will find it completely weird. And that's the point - Daniel Tammet comes across as interesting, facinated in the world around him and having a far better understanding of autism than the those who have built their careers on the subject.

A particularly illuminating moment for me came with a comment about a study into children with autistic-spectrum disorder, comparing their creativity with a control group. One question was "how would you make this toy more fun?" - the control group did better than the kids with ASD. But as Tammet explains, for someone who sees detail before they see broader issues (and as Tammet says of himself, someone who sees the scratches on the table before they see the table), this is such a sloppily-worded question that it's incredibly difficult to answer. What kind of fun? Fun for whom? When?

Understanding this, and taking savant skills out of the realm of the superhuman & into the real world, is one of the book's key strengths. The principal weakness is that Tammet isn't an incredibly engaging writer and can come across as a bit stiff and stilted at times - but this is in the nature of his brain, so it would be a bit foolish to expect otherwise and considered in this context he writes with great skill. The book challenges preconceptions about autism without being judgmental or confrontational, and has left me thinking quite a bit about the nature of the brain. Well worth the purchase.
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