Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood Hardcover – October 16, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews

See all 25 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$3.99 $0.01

Pre-order "Just Getting Started" by Tony Bennett
A personal tribute to the people, places, and things that have inspired the legendary musician. Learn more | Kindle book
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Oliver Sacks's luminous memoir charts the growth of a mind. Born in 1933 into a family of formidably intelligent London Jews, he discovered the wonders of the physical sciences early from his parents and their flock of brilliant siblings, most notably "Uncle Tungsten" (real name, Dave), who "manufactured lightbulbs with filaments of fine tungsten wire." Metals were the substances that first attracted young Oliver, and his descriptions of their colors, textures, and properties are as sensuous and romantic as an art lover's rhapsodies over an Old Master. Seamlessly interwoven with his personal recollections is a masterful survey of scientific history, with emphasis on the great chemists like Robert Boyle, Antoine Lavoisier, and Humphry Davy (Sacks's personal hero). Yet this is not a dry intellectual autobiography; his parents in particular, both doctors, are vividly sketched. His sociable father loved house calls and "was drawn to medicine because its practice was central in human society," while his shy mother "had an intense feeling for structure ... for her [medicine] was part of natural history and biology." For young Oliver, unhappy at the brutal boarding school he was sent to during the war, and afraid that he would become mentally ill like his older brother, chemistry was a refuge in an uncertain world. He would outgrow his passion for metals and become a neurologist, but as readers of Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat know, he would never leave behind his conviction that science is a profoundly human endeavor. --Wendy Smith

From Publishers Weekly

Sacks, a neurologist perhaps best known for his books Awakenings (which became a Robin Williams/Robert De Niro vehicle) and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, invokes his childhood in wartime England and his early scientific fascination with light, matter and energy as a mystic might invoke the transformative symbolism of metals and salts. The "Uncle Tungsten" of the book's title is Sacks's Uncle Dave, who manufactured light bulbs with filaments of fine tungsten wire, and who first initiated Sacks into the mysteries of metals. The author of this illuminating and poignant memoir describes his four tortuous years at boarding school during the war, where he was sent to escape the bombings, and his profound inquisitiveness cultivated by living in a household steeped in learning, religion and politics (both his parents were doctors and his aunts were ardent Zionists). But as Sacks writes, the family influence extended well beyond the home, to include the groundbreaking chemists and physicists whom he describes as "honorary ancestors, people to whom, in fantasy, I had a sort of connection." Family life exacted another transformative influence as well: his older brother Michael's psychosis made him feel that "a magical and malignant world was closing in about him," perhaps giving a hint of what led the author to explore the depths of psychosis in his later professional life. For Sacks, the onset of puberty coincided with his discovery of biology, his departure from his childhood love of chemistry and, at age 14, a new understanding that he would become a doctor. Many readers and patients are happy with that decision. (Oct.)Forecast: This book is as well-written as Sacks's earlier works, and should get fans engrossed in the facts of his life and opinions. Look for an early spike on the strength of his name, and strong sales thereafter.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (October 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375404481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375404481
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
55 comments| 69 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: isaac newton biography