Uncle Tungsten Memories Of A Chemical Boyhood

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Long before Oliver Sacks became a distinguished neurologist and bestselling writer he was a small English boy fascinated by metals–also by chemical reactions the louder and smellier the better photography squids and cuttlefish H.G. Wells and the periodic table. In this endlessly charming and eloquent memoir the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings chronicles his love affair with science and the magnificently odd and sometimes harrowing childhood in which that love affair unfolded. In Uncle Tungsten we meet Sacks’ extraordinary family from his surgeon mother who introduces the fourteenyearold Oliver to the art of human dissection and his father a family doctor who imbues in his son an early enthusiasm for housecalls to his “Uncle Tungsten” whose factory produces tungstenfilament lightbulbs. We follow the young Oliver as he is exiled at the age of six to a grim sadistic boarding school to escape the London Blitz and later watch as he sets about passionately reliving the exploits of his chemical heroes–in his own home laboratory. Uncle Tungsten is a crystalline view of a brilliant young mind springing to life a story of growing up which is by turns elegiac comic and wistful full of the electrifying joy of discovery.
Oliver Sacks

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