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The Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks

The Island of the Colorblind (1996)

by Oliver Sacks

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1,390198,424 (3.81)42
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Sacks' fascinating look at colorblindness and other conditions in several Pacific islands. Witty and absorbing, as with all of the Sacks books I've tried. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Mar 11, 2019 |
colorbindness, psychology, non-fiction, case studies ( )
  CarmenCorea | Nov 13, 2017 |
I enjoyed the first part of the book immensely, as it was about true colorblindness. People see everything in shades of gray. As a scientist who works on vision, it was fascinating to read the way people adapted to their condition and also uplifting to read how Oliver Sacks and his companions (one of which was also achromatic) helped the people on this island. The epidemiology was interesting too. This all began with a storm that killed most of the people on the island…

What kept this from being a 4-star book was that I didn't realize this was only half the book. The second half was on islands where mysterious diseases occurred where people developed dementia, parkinson's like symptoms or symptoms of ALS. While this was intellectually interesting, it was terribly depressing and not what I had signed up for. Also there was a large section on native plants. Still, Oliver Sacks is (was) a fantastic writer and has a very keen sense of the humanity of those individuals he talks about. Highly recommended but at least my copy turned out to be different than I thought. I think my edition is actually "The Island of the Colorblind and Cyclad Island". However they seem to be together. ( )
1 vote krazy4katz | Nov 2, 2017 |
To have a book cover the topic of genetic issues and illnesses like colorblindness and lytico-bodig was interesting. To find it quotable made it thoroughly enjoyable. I was quite surprised at how much I experienced while reading this book. The author describes his travels in such a way that is both captivating and fascinating, and manages to make the issues more human than scientific or technical. As a reader I found I was learning more about both issues than I ever expected to learn from a book about either.

For people interested in genetics or the culture of a people dealing with genetic issues, this is a book that must be picked up. For others, it is still an enjoyable education. No sleeping in this class. ( )
  mirrani | Dec 6, 2015 |
rabck from GoryDetails; I don't think I'll look at all the green tropical plants the same way again. Although the title purports the neurologist's investigation into the incidence of color blindness on an island in Micronesia, the author also ventures to other islands to study other diseases, and his side passion for cycads
Definitely read the notes at the end - they provide more valuable insight into the different chapters ( )
  nancynova | Aug 16, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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Islands have always fascinated me; perhaps they fascinate everyone.
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Book description
In HET EILAND DER KLEURENBLINDEN staan twee exotische medische raadsels centraal, die dermate intrigerend zijn dat Oliver Sacks het ervoor over heeft helemaal naar het eilandenrijk van Micronesië in de Stille Zuidzee als te reizen om beide mysteries te helpen oplossen. In het titelstuk wordt het raadsel gevormd door een onwaarschijnlijk hoog percentage kleurenblinde mensen op het eiland Pingelap. Dit unicum in de medische geschiedenis van het gezichtsvermogen laat Sacks zich niet ontgaan. Als hij na een avontuurlijk onderzoek de verklaring uit de doeken doet, voelt de lezer zich als een trouwe Dr Watsen die zich door Sherlock Holmes laat verbluffen. In het tweede grote verhaal speelt een mysterieuze ziekte de hoofdrol die op het nabijgelegen eiland Pohnpei een enorme tol onder de bevolking heeft geëist. Liefhebber van palmen als hij is, zou Oliver Sacks graag de schuldige zoeken in de verslavende 'fadang', het zalige ,aar gevaarlijke zaad uit het hart van de palmvaren. Maar ondanks ing
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375700730, Paperback)

In his books An Anthropologist on Mars and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks details the lives of patients isolated by neurological disorders, shedding light on our common humanity and the ways in which we perceive the world around us. Now he looks at the effects of physical isolation in The Island of the Colorblind. On this journey, he carried with him the intellectual curiousity, kind understanding, and unique vision he has so consistently demonstrated.

Drawn to the Micronesian island of Pingelap by reports of a community of people born totally colorblind, Dr. Sacks set up a clinic in a one-room dispensary. There he listened to patients describe their colorless world in terms rich with pattern and tone, luminance and shadow. Then, in Guam, he investigated a puzzling neurodegenerative paralysis, making housecalls amid crowing cockerels, cycad jungles, and the remains of a colonial culture. The experience affords Sacks an opportunity to elaborate on such personal passions as botany and history and to explore the meaning of islands, the dissemination of species, the birth of disease, and the nature of deep geologic time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:37 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

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' 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.… (more)

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