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Summary

When Oliver Sacks was 12 years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: "Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far." It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening reflection on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy.

As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, as well as with a group of patients who would define his life, it becomes clear that Sacks' earnest desire for engagement has occasioned unexpected encounters and travels - sending him through bars and alleys, over oceans, and across continents.

With unbridled honesty and humour, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions - bodybuilding, weightlifting, and swimming - also drives his cerebral passions. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual, his guilt over leaving his family to come to America, his bond with his schizophrenic brother, and the writers and scientists - Thom Gunn, A. R. Luria, W. H. Auden, Gerald M. Edelman, Francis Crick - who influenced him.

On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer - and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.

©2015 Oliver Sacks (P)2015 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Critic reviews

"His truly has been a life lived to the full – and beyond . . . it is the adventure of ideas he has undertaken that has bestowed on his life its remarkable originality." (Will Self, The Guardian)
"A compelling, surprising and sometimes astounding story of a richly lived life . . . fabulously surprising photos." (James McConnachie, The Sunday Times)
"[A] beautifully constructed and moving memoir . . . It is sad to think that Oliver Sacks's voice will soon be stilled, but his life and work are a gift to many and we can be grateful that he leaves such a legacy." (Andrew Scull, TLS)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, shame about the voice choice

Would you listen to On the Move: A Life again? Why?

I would not listen again but I would read the book again. The choice of voice artist is quite bizarre and the production very poor.

What didn’t you like about Dan Woren’s performance?

The voice artist would be fine for an American character or novel. But he is so far removed from Oliver Sacks's London origins and English pronunciation that whilst at first it is unintentionally funny it is ultimately annoying. His mispronunciation of well known places is an especially silly mistake. The voice artist may not have realised that he was mispronouncing but the producers should not have hired him without giving him the support to correct pronunciation. Because Sacks died just before the recording was released I don't suppose he heard it. He would have pointed out the numerous faux pas but alas this undermines a brilliant book.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There are many shocking and hilarious moments and it is full of profound insight into the human condition.

Any additional comments?

Please producers of audio book, do your research and respect the pronunciations of things, people and places, for without this the books ring false and the meaning inferred or intended by the author is completely undermined.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anthony
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 11-07-15

Engaging insight into a stimulating mind

Oliver Sacks and his "Man who mistook his wife for a hat" are well known for their informative insights into the mysteries and wonder of the human brain. Sacks is a consummate story-teller engaging the reader with fascinating insights derived from his clinical career and personal challenges and triumphs.

In this autobiographical journey he reveals much about himself, his formative influences of family and colleagues, and his brushes with 'conservatism' (my word here... to reflect those who oppose new ideas or new thinking) in various forms. He exposes and shares his shyness, his sexuality and relationships, experimentation with drugs, and ethical dilemmas.

He reveals to us his multidimensional and varied interests, his arrogance and overconfidence (perhaps self-confidence is more accurate...) alongside his insecurities and desire to be loved, appreciated and respected.

I especially enjoyed his concluding comments on the purpose and importance of writing, a suitable book-end to this engaging and at times intimate public reflection.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A genius among common men

An inspiring life story let down by poor performance containing mispronounced English proper and place names.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

an amazing life spoiled a little by narration

Sacks led an amazing life which he recounts excellently here. The audio book is spoiled a bit by the narration which regularly mispronounced British and medical terms. An English narrator would be more appropriate given the author

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book but needed British narrator

A sprightly, engaging and deeply interesting account of the author’s life. But the American narrator obstructs because he mispronounces certain words (or rather uses the American pronunciation) and the author, Oliver Sacks, despite living for many years in the USA retained a very British/London educated accent. So the choice of narrator, through no inherent fault of his own, spoils it. We needed to hear Sack’s voice more, and this obtrudes.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, incredible life, poor narration

What didn’t you like about Dan Woren’s performance?

Unfortunately he was totally the wrong choice. He's clearly a very good narrator but his voice is so far removed from Sacks' own that this, along with a myriad of mispronunciation nearly spoils the book - or at the least, wrenches you from the narrative.

Any additional comments?

The story is a wonderful insight into an inspiring man.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

I don't normally bother reviewing books but this one deserves a review - fascinating excellent storytelling and rich life story - many insights into the workings of the brain and mind and life in general.
Highly recommended and inspirational.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

such an amazing book

an incredible book by and about an astonishing man with an interesting life and such a great mind.
Rest in peace

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lynne
  • 17-05-15

Shame about the voice/accent

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Oliver Sack's life is real and fascinating. Despite his many years in the United States, he still speaks with an English accent. So, no offence to the reader himself, but the American accent is ALL wrong.

How could the performance have been better?

A reader with an English accent is imperative. I find it hard to understand who selected this voice/accent for this production.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Oliver Sacks is one of the world's most fascinating, not to mention engaging, polymaths.

Any additional comments?

Read it! Or simply petition the publisher to change the voice/accent. And when doing it, make sure the reader has a spattering of yiddish/hebrew words.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judith
  • 12-01-17

Fantastic

Listening to "On the Move" was a delightful experience. Dan Woren's reading of the text kept me engaged and interested. He became Oliver Sacks to me while I listened. A wonderful read and a wonderful narration.
Thank you!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Prunella P.
  • 27-11-15

My Idol, smashed and rebuilt!

Where does On the Move: A Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Amongst all the audiobooks I have listened to so far, this does not rate as one of the best. BUT, this is solely because of the narration. I picked it up in hardcover, though, and can honestly say it's one of my favourite reads of the year.

What was one of the most memorable moments of On the Move: A Life?

Oliver Sacks has been a hero of mine for decades. I have been so inspired by his writing in the past, his deep curiousity about the natural world and the human body, and his genuine love of people, despite what seemed like an awkward shyness. He was someone I could relate to. I always thought of him as a mild-mannered science geek in a grandfather's body. But I was amazed to learn that he'd been a bodybuilder as a young man, and had behaved quite recklessly in his youth. Shocked, actually. I don't want to give any spoilers. But at first I felt my idol being smashed, and then built up again as a more well-rounded human being, even more interesting than I'd previously thought!

Did Dan Woren do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

The narrator had a very clear voice and spoke at a good speed, but he was the strangest choice to narrate this book! In my head I had to almost translate his young, loud-ish American voice into the soft, older, British-inflected voice I know and love. I am sure I would have not been irritated if the author himself had been American, except he also mispronounced some scientific terms and words in German and French. If you don't know how to pronounce it, find out how.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was moved many times by the author's detailed accounts of the patients he came to know and care for deeply.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gordon
  • 06-11-17

Wrong Accent

Although Sacks spent most of his life in the US, he always retained his British accent. How could anyone ask Woren, with his strong American accent, to read Sacks's autobiography? Woren makes matters worse because no one helped him with British pronunciation, and so we read of a university provost ("proh-vohst") visiting Magdalen ("Mag-dalen") College. It's painful and a distraction. Signed, a Canadian whose accent is between the two and knows the difference.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rebecca Tilley
  • 05-11-15

Beautiful story, well narrated, strange choice of narrator.

I am confused as to why the narrator of this audiobook, an American, was chosen to represent the voice of such a strong British voice such as Sacks.

However the narration was done well and the story is lovely.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful