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The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recoveryby Sam Kean
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the bestseller The Disappearing Spoon, tales of the brain and the history of neuroscience.
Early studies of the functions of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike — strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, lobotomies, horrendous accidents — and see how the victim coped. In many cases survival was miraculous, and observers could only marvel at the transformations that took place afterward, altering victims' personalities. An injury to one section can leave a person unable to recognize loved ones; some brain trauma can even make you a pathological gambler, pedophile, or liar. But a few scientists realized that these injuries were an opportunity for studying brain function at its extremes. With lucid explanations and incisive wit, Sam Kean explains the brain's secret passageways while recounting forgotten stories of common people whose struggles, resiliency, and deep humanity made modern neuroscience possible.
"This is Sam Kean's finest work yet, an entertaining and offbeat history of the brain populated with mad scientists, deranged criminals, geniuses, and wretched souls. The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons is one of those books that will have you following your friends around, reading passages out loud, until they snatch the book away from you and read it for themselves. Good luck getting it back." Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist
"Put your Netflix queue on hold. Sam Kean's The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons will command your full attention from the first page. It's not just an engaging guide to mysteries of existence; it's compelling story-telling for anyone with a taste for the bizarre and metaphysical." William Poundstone, author of Rock Breaks Scissors
"In tale after tale, best-selling author Kean provides a fascinating, and at times gloriously gory, look at how early efforts in neurosurgery were essentially a medical guessing game....Entertaining and quotable, Kean's writing is sharp, and each individual story brings the history of neuroscience to life. Compulsively readable, wicked scientific fun." Kirkus
"To pick up one of these stories is to lose oneself in them. Where does the brain end and the mind begin? Curious readers will find both brain and mind fully revved up while engaging with this powerfully appealing and thought-provoking work of neuroscience history." Booklist
"Strokes, seizures, accidents: if they don't kill, they can traumatize the brain so badly that an individual's personality can be significantly changed. But, explains New York Times best-selling author of the terrific The Violinist's Thumb, early neuroscientists saw such traumas as an opportunity to study the brain's wondrous workings." Library Journal, "Barbara's Picks"
About the Author
Sam Kean is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist's Thumb. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, and New Scientist, and has been featured on NPR's Radiolab and All Things Considered."
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