The Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks

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Synopsis

Oliver Sacks has always been fascinated by islands--their remoteness, their mystery, above all the unique forms of life they harbor. For him, islands conjure up equally the romance of Melville and Stevenson, the adventure of Magellan and Cook, and the scientific wonder of Darwin and Wallace.

Drawn to the tiny Pacific atoll of Pingelap by intriguing reports of an isolated community of islanders born totally color-blind, Sacks finds himself setting up a clinic in a one-room island dispensary, where he listens to these achromatopic islanders describe their colorless world in rich terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow. And on Guam, where he goes to investigate the puzzling neurodegenerative paralysis endemic there for a century, he becomes, for a brief time, an island neurologist, making house calls with his colleague John Steele, amid crowing cockerels, cycad jungles, and the remains of a colonial culture.

The islands reawaken Sacks's lifelong passion for botany--in particular, for the primitive cycad trees, whose existence dates back to the Paleozoic--and the cycads are the starting point for an intensely personal reflection on the meaning of islands, the dissemination of species, the genesis of disease, and the nature of deep geologic time. Out of an unexpected journey, Sacks has woven an unforgettable narrative which immerses us in the romance of island life, and shares his own compelling vision of the complexities of being human.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Oliver Sacks

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Oliver Sacks is a practicing physician and the author of more than ten books, including Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film). He lives in New York City, where he is professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and the first Columbia University Artist.
 
Published November 14, 2012 by Vintage. 337 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Island of the Colorblind

Kirkus Reviews

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Sacks's fans are in for a treat: This is a magical medical mystery tour of South Sea islands that goes beyond the neurological lore to reveal the good doctor as historian, botanist, environmentalist, anthropologist, and, as always, caring human being.

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Publishers Weekly

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Neurologist Sacks, famed for his investigations of unusual medical conditions (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, etc.), went to Micronesia in 1993 to study firsthand two rare disorders: achromat

Dec 30 1996 | Read Full Review of The Island of the Colorblind

AV Club

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If your experience with medical non-fiction is limited to disease-of-the-week books, meet Oliver Sacks.

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of The Island of the Colorblind

Entertainment Weekly

In The Island of the Colorblind's second half, a companion piece about Guam's cycad trees, Sacks waxes lyrical about an ancient plant that may or may not have caused a Parkinson's-like disease on the island;

Feb 14 1997 | Read Full Review of The Island of the Colorblind

People

The preeminent neurologist and author (Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) ventures to Micronesia in this mesmerizing account of two journeys—the first to the Pacific atoll of Pingelap, home to an isolated community suffering from total hereditary color blindness;

Feb 10 1997 | Read Full Review of The Island of the Colorblind

Spirituality & Practice

Reviews Philosophy About Our Affiliates Books & Audios Recently Reviewed Oliver Sacks (Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and An Anthropologist on Mars) is a professor of neurology who has a penchant for probing the mysteries o...

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