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Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf Paperback – 5 Jul 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330523643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330523646
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"This book will shake your preconceptions about the deaf, about language and about thought--. Sacks [is] one of the finest and most thoughtful writers of our time."--"Los Angeles Times Book Review""Fascinating and richly rewarding--. Sacks is a profoundly wise observer."--"The Plain Dealer""One cannot read more than a few pages of Sacks without seeing something in a new way. His breadth of understanding and expression seems limitless."--"Kansas City Star""A remarkable book, penetrating, subtle, persuasive--. [It] will likely become a classic."--"St. Louis Post-Dispatch"

Book Description

The bestselling author of Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Musicophilia.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I once saw a documentary about a couple whose daughter was deaf, and they were agonizing about whether to go ahead and have a complex and risky procedure performed which might restore some hearing for their child. I couldn't understand why the father's brother, who was himself profoundly deaf, was so upset that they were even considering this operation.
Having read Oliver Sacks' book, I now have a much greater understanding of how intensely proud deaf people are of their culture. The book describes much of the history of the deaf communities' language and struggle for identity. It reads like a history of a nation struggling for recognition of its rich culture and language. The book also gives many insights into deafness and its causes too, and describes sign language as a fully formed language (or languages!), as rich as any spoken form, but with a quality quite different. It becomes quite clear in the book that deaf people don't necessarily consider themselves 'ill' or 'disabled', but have a human condition which is simply different. This is perhaps why the uncle of the deaf girl in the documentary was upset by his brother's actions---it might be perceived as a kind of prejudice.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is simply interested other cultures, or perhaps just curious about a different human experience which can't be fully imagined if one is not deaf, but still some understanding and appreciation might be gained.
As ever, this Oliver Sacks book is easy to read, like his other popular accounts, and he is not just a passive observer but has many personal tales of his contacts with deaf people, their views and his relationships with them.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book and could have wished it twice as long. However, a friend to whom I recommended the book didn't think that highly of it. So to be honest, I guess this book isn't for everyone. It is true that particularly in this book, Sacks gets carried away by lots of long footnotes printed at the bottom of the pages. For me, reading them was like exploring every nook and cranny of a great cathedral. Absolutely enthralling. But for others, it may prove to be rather distracting. If you have ever pondered the endlessly fascinating relationship of language to thinking, you will like this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a deeply interesting book which should be read by anyone interested in language, and in sign language and the Deaf in particular.

It has its faults; three sections are rather bolted together but the information is clear, there are many interesting side notes that seem to take up about half the book and Sacks has found a real empathy with the deaf without losing objectivity.

My only real criticism is one that the author can't do much about. It was written in the 80s and while it is still very stimulating and thought provoking I now want to know how the situation of the (American) Deaf has progressed in the last quarter century and I'm not sure where to find out yet.

My own interest is that I live in rural Northern Uganda and I come across pre and post lingually deaf folk who have no real way of communicating. Their awareness of the world and ability to think are severely restricted but education in Uganda Sign Language is available if only the connections and parental will can be engaged. So I am seeing the 'native' state of the deaf: isolated, vulnerable, sometimes abused. Its like Europe a few hundred years back.
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Format: Paperback
I love Oliver Sacks's writing because of his excitement, even his passion that he brings to his subjects. In every book of his that I have read, he has infected me with his sense of amazement at the puzzles of the human brain. Even after studying neurology I learned a lot about deafness and language from this book. However, I found the writing to be redundant and the editing to be poor. When he started to repeat the same ideas over and over again I started wondering whether this book had not originally been just a long article for the New York Review of Books. Moreover, many of the most interesting ideas were relegated to the footnotes and this made for very choppy reading. In short, I will always remain a big fan of Oliver Sacks, but I think his writing has improved a lot since he wrote this and I sure won't miss the footnotes if he leaves them out of his next book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful and insightful book, dont think you can read it quickly. for me it was full of concepts about deafness that i had never concidderd and had to take time to mull over to realy understand. normally i could have read this in a day but instead it took me a month long journy to truly apreceate evrything contained in this wonderful book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Few people really understand Deaf culture and the Deaf Community. They think they do but unless you identify yourself as Deaf (with a capital 'D'), I don't believe you really do. I was therefore intrigued to read Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks, mainly because he was hearing and until he started researching for this book, had little understanding of the topic matter. However Mr Sacks, in my opinion, has managed just that. The book is quite heavy in part and the reader needs to jump backwards and forwards between the narrative and extensive footnotes that appear at the bottom of a good many pages, but in doing so, nothing escapes the genius of what he writes. I should add that I myself are hearing and simply move at the edge of the Deaf Community as a CSW. This was the first book that I read by Oliver Sacks and I have since become a massive fan of his work.
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