The Island of the Colour-blind
'Sacks is rightly renowned for his empathy . . . anyone with a taste for the exotic will find this beautifully written book highly engaging' – Sunday Times
Always fascinated by islands, Oliver Sacks is drawn to the Pacific by reports of the tiny atoll of Pingelap, with its isolated community of islanders born totally colour-blind; and to Guam, where he investigates a puzzling paralysis endemic there for a century. Along the way, he re-encounters the beautiful, primitive island cycad trees – and these become the starting point for a meditation on time and evolution, disease and adaptation, and islands both real and metaphorical in The Island of the Colour-Blind.
This is a wonderful book, made better by Sacks' exceptionally gentle descriptions of patients. He also captures the unimaginable sadness of the Pacific.
There is no one at the present time who writes like Oliver Sacks . . . He is a superb clinician who can take a seemingly arid and obscure medical condition, and convert it into a moving, personal odyssey, a testament of tenacity, courage and will.
Dr Sacks is an elegant and beguiling writer, and when he describes a condition such as achromatopsia (total colour-blindness), he is not content merely to describe it from the outside, but he tries to imagine what the world is like to a person with the condition.