Oliver Wolf Sacks (July 9, 1933 – August 30, 2015) was a British-American neurologist, writer, and amateur chemist who was Professor of Neurology at New York University School of Medicine. Between 2007 and 2012, he was professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University.
Sacks is the author of numerous best-selling books, including several collections of case studies of people with neurological disorders. His 1973 book Awakenings was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film of the same name in 1990 starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. He and his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain were the subject of “Musical Minds”, an episode of the PBS series Nova.
Sacks’ work has been featured in a “broader range of media than those of any other contemporary medical author”and in 1990, The New York Times said he “has become a kind of poet laureate of contemporary medicine”. His descriptions of people coping with and adapting to neurological conditions or injuries often illuminate the ways in which the normal brain deals with perception, memory and individuality.
Sacks considers that his literary style grows out of the tradition of 19th-century “clinical anecdotes,” a literary style that included detailed narrative case histories. He also counts among his inspirations the case histories of the Russian neuropsychologist A. R. Luria.