In Uncle Tungsten we meet Sacks extraordinary family, from his surgeon mother (who introduces the fourteen-year-old Oliver to the art of human dissection) and his father, a family doctor who imbues in his son an early enthusiasm for housecalls, to his Uncle Tungsten, whose factory produces tungsten-filament lightbulbs. We follow the young Oliver as he is exiled at the age of six to a grim, sadistic boarding school to escape the London Blitz, and later watch as he sets about passionately reliving the exploits of his chemical heroes in his own home laboratory. Uncle Tungsten is a crystalline view of a brilliant young mind springing to life, a story of growing up which is by turns elegiac, comic, and wistful, full of the electrifying joy of discovery."
Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood
In this national bestseller, everybody's favorite science writer tells the story of his incredible Jewish family and the childhood he spent in England. Surrounded by relatives who encouraged his interest in nature, Sacks was strongly influenced by his Uncle Dave (the Tungsten of the title), who operated a light-bulb factory and introduced him to the wonder of metals. Offering a fascinating overview of scientific history along with his own story, Sacks recounts how his love of learning helped him survive life in a British boarding school so dreary it would've made Dickens cringe. Written with humor, candor and stirring insight, this memoir captures both the curiosity of Sacks as a young student and his singular brilliance as a mature scientist. A reading group guide is available in print and online at www.vintagebooks.com/read.