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An Anthropologist on Mars is the sixth book by neurologist Oliver Wolf Sacks and deals with seven intriguing case studies. The first is an artist who becomes completely colour-blind (cerebral achromatopsia) and details both the unimaginable impact this has on normal life, and the adaptation that can make life liveable. The second involves amnesia and looks at different ways of forming memory. The third deals with Tourette's syndrome in a surgeon with a pilot's licence, shows both the funny and the dark sides of this condition, and the effect of medications. The fourth examines the effect of regaining sight on a person who has been blind since childhood. The fifth involves seizures of reminiscence and examines what memory actually is. The sixth deals with an autistic savant artist, and the final case study is about the well-known Aspergian, Temple Grandin. It is this remarkable woman who, in explaining what it feels like to try to understand normal human behaviour, lends her phrase to the title, An Anthropologist on Mars. Grandin gives a fascinating insight into the autistic spectrum, explaining that autistic people Think in Pictures (the title of her own book). Occasionally Sacks is rather too generous with technical detail jargon, so the reader may be tempted to skim or skip. The footnotes enlarge on or update the text, the book is fully indexed and there is a bibliography for those interested in further reading. This book is interesting, occasionally scary and will make the reader appreciate the brain they have.
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Oliver Sacks has always had a knack for deftly explaining the sometimes confusing world of neurology, but "Anthropologist" is a remarkable series of case studies. Dr. Sacks weaves the tales of seven human beings, each having a different neurological "difference" and portraying them in a matter of fact, logical light. Instead of viewing each person as having a disability, Dr. Sacks focuses on the remarkable way they have learned to adapt and make the best out of all situations. What to make of a painter that is colorblind? How can a person with Tourette Syndrome possibly be a surgeon? Why does an autistic teenager seem unable to verbally communicate appropriately, yet shows signs of immense, almost sacred "feelings" in his drawings? All these questions are anwered and mostly with more questions. However, this book differs than most in that it manages to bring a "soulful spirit" to those of which Dr. Sacks writes. A spirit that eludes most human beings.
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on 8 July 2012
If you are interested in the human spirit and its ability to overcome huge problems with great dignity then this is a book for you. Couple this with Oliver Sacks' ability to empathise and admire his patients and this is indeed a very heart warming and fascinating book. How does, for instance, a highly gifted artist adapt to living life after losing his understanding of colour following an accident (even his memories have lost all colour)? This, and 6 other moving accounts, are to be found here.
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2016
Possibly one of my favourite Oliver Sacks books.

This follows the usual format which Dr Sacks uses and goes chapter by chapter with a different patient and diagnosis.

Hugely interesting and at times tragic read. I could weep for The Last Hippy (Greg F) left so gravely disabled because an enormous brain tumour caused symptoms his religious cult saw as "enlightenment". Had he been encouraged to seek medical attention when the symptoms first appeared he would have made a full recovery. We meet Greg because his tumour was not treated in time for that full recovery.

Other chapters deal with colour blindness in a painter, Tourette's syndrome in a surgeon and more cases with other issues.

As always with Oliver Sacks you get a real sense of the person with the impairment. This is something I have a,ways liked about the books of Dr Sacks and this one is no exception. Indeed the quote at the beginning of the book sums this up beautifully. "Ask not what disease the patient has but rather what person the disease has."

Classic Oliver Sacks. Well worth a read.
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on 12 November 2012
This book was perfect for a long train journey I recently had to make.

Sacks' writing style is as accessible as ever, and each chapter can be read alone, although the author's infectious enthusiasm for his subjects draws the reader in to considering wider and more philosophical issues such as the nature and understanding of 'self' and identity.

Sacks provides fascinating detail both clinical (e.g., regarding the functions of certain brain structures) and human, helping the reader to comprehend not just why neurogically different people behave in different ways (e.g., the strange and unexpected tics of tourettes), but how it is to live in their world.

The author also provides at the end of the book a fairly large section containing references relevant to each of the tales for the reader who wants to find out more.

A wonderful book from a consistently engaging and thought-provoking author.
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on 6 February 2016
I bought this as a gift after having read ' the man who mistook his wife for a hat'. The recipient is enjoying this book a lot. I get to hear each case study from him as he has read them and his opinions on each one. He finds some cases more interesting than others and sometimes is disappointed at the lack of solution or cure.
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on 24 August 2014
Oliver Sacks' books are superb!!
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on 25 April 2016
Not as easy a read as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, but interesting. I thought some of the case studies went on a bit to long. He's fascinating but can be a bit up his own arse.
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on 31 January 2016
As always, Oliver Sacks delivers fascinating case studies and insights into human brain physiology. If you liked any of his others, you'll like this.
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on 24 June 2015
Perfect, purchase arrived really early and in lovely condition thank you, super seller will use again
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