Awakenings

By Oliver Sacks,

Book cover of Awakenings

Book description

'The story of a disease that plunged its victims into a prison of viscous time, and the drug that catapulted them out of it' - Guardian

Hailed as a medical classic, and the subject of a major feature film as well as radio and stage plays and various TV documentaries,…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Awakenings as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Awakenings is the novel-length true story of the patients comatose for decades from sleeping-sickness, a disease that reared its head in the 1920s and then died out.

I consider Oliver Sacks the master storyteller of medical mysteries, and he kept me completely riveted with his descriptions of watching these patients wake up when given the drug L-Dopa, re-entering the world after many decades. The story gives me chills every time I think about it.

A fascinating, readable nonfiction account of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness as children in the great epidemic of 1918. They grew to adulthood in a Bronx hospital, frozen in sleep for decades. The prognosis was hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Sacks dared to try a new drug, L-DOPA, giving his patients an astonishing, explosive, “awakening.” Dr. Sacks recounts case histories of his patients, their lives, and extraordinary transformations from his treatment. This book is a passionate exploration of the most general questions of health, disease, suffering, care, and the human condition. The patients’ realization of themselves as adults is heartbreaking. Dr.…

From Marcia's list on pandemics, historical, or fictional.

The remarkable story of the discovery of the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in causing the sleeping sickness that occurred in some people after they had been infected in the 1918 Great Influenza epidemic. An exciting tale of a young neurologist joining the scientific team working on the development of L-DOPA as a therapy for this disorder and how it woke them up from decades of near-coma. The idea of using L-DOPA came from the scientific discovery that revealed dopamine was deficient in the brains of people with this sickness so giving a precursor to it might replace what the…

From David's list on the brain and mind.

A highlight of my career was the opportunity to interview Oliver Sacks in researching one of my books. His scientific knowledge and insight have produced so many poignant and touching stories. No writer that I know of has been able to combine medicine with humanity in quite the same way.

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