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On the move: a life by Oliver Sacks
  1. Neil Watson,
  2. Kathryn Knight
  1. Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Neil Watson, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SA, UK; neil.watson{at}

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The Edinburgh Neurology Book Club recently read the late Professor Oliver Sacks’ autobiography, On the Move: A Life. Many of us have read (and reviewed1 2) his works. We wanted to learn about the man himself. He did not disappoint us.

This is an unflinchingly honest memoir from a singular character. As his schoolteacher put it, ‘Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far’. He was many things: English, Jewish, an expat in the USA, homosexual and mostly celibate, harrowed by contemporary attitudes (his mother wished he ‘had never been born’) and laws (same-sex relations between UK men were only partially legalised in 1967). He was a record-breaking powerlifter, a motorbike fanatic, a recovered amphetamine addict, a lifelong wild swimmer and prosopagnosia sufferer. Besides these, he was perhaps the most famous neurologist of all time.

Sacks’ career was …

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  • Contributors NW wrote the primary manuscript. KK cowrote and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned. Internally peer reviewed.

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