Insights May 2014
Book Review

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

From The Star.

By: James Macgowan Published on Tue May 27 2014

In his entrancing new book, The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, science writer Sam Kean burrows into the workings of an organ once deemed as unknowable as the far reaches of the galaxy, and does so with boyish charm, accessible language, a prodigious amount of enthusiasm and the sobering realization that throughout history a catastrophic brain injury has ghoulishly been the neuroscientists best friend.

As he did in his previous books on DNA and the Periodic Table, Kean mixes incredible historical tales and case histories with the heavier slogging that wouldn’t be out of place in a classroom setting. More than once you will find yourself sitting with your mouth agape in complete wonder of the brain, an effect that begins with Kean’s own peculiar malady, something called sleep paralysis.

Whenever he sleeps on his back Kean will awake in the morning and be unable to move any part of his body. “I fight, I struggle, I strain to twiddle a toe or flex a nostril, and it does no good. It’s what being reincarnated as a statue would feel like.” Eventually, by focusing all his energy, he can break out of it after a few minutes. Others are not so lucky. A woman in England has been declared dead three times and once woke up in the morgue, all because of faulty communication among the three major parts of the brain (the reptile, mammal and primate parts).

To read the full review visit The Star



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