The island of the colorblind

Part travelogue, part autobiography, part medical mystery, The island of the colorblind, is a moving book by the «poet laureate of medicine» (The New York Times) and bestselling author of Awakenings takes us to a tiny Pacific atoll and the island of Guam to explore the genesis of disease, the wonders of botany, and the complexities of being human.

For Oliver Sacks, 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.

Out of this 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 mysteries of being human.

«Sacks’s total immersion in island life makes this luminous, beautifully written report a wonderous voyage of discovery. As a travel writer, Sacks ranks with Paul Theroux and Bruce Chatwin. As an investigator of the mind’s mysteries, he is in a class by himself.»
—Publishers Weekly