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Seeing the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs


My travel journals and experiences
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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Most of those journals have never been transcribed, although when I was in Alabama, I think in '87, Kate, you conveyed to me a request from a… a journal called Antaeus, they were going to have a number devoted to travel journals. And I asked you if you could find my Alabama travel journal and you did. And that was quite a dramatic time in Alabama because the motorbike blew up. And... and I then hitchhiked a lift for... for the carcass and myself on a truck, but before we got going on the big journey there was three days at a truck-stop called Travel Happy, near Tuscaloosa. And I wrote almost non-stop in the 72 hours at the truck-stop. This was my, sort of, a portrait of trucking life and somehow trucking life seemed to me very, very romantic. And so... so Travel Happy was published in '88 and, to some extent, Travel Happy could… yes, there were a few awful things. But I... I loved travelling on the motorbike, and I was on the road for... for six months. I... and as I said earlier, I would travel most... most weekends, and I was young and I felt good and I was healthy and I was enchanted by the West and the Southwest. And I was in love with the new young president and the feeling of optimism and honeymoon was very intense then.

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. Having obtained his medical degree at Oxford University, he moved to the USA. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Sacks treated these patients with the then-experimental drug L-Dopa producing astounding results which he described in his book Awakenings. Further cases of neurological disorders were described by Sacks with exceptional sympathy in another major book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat which became an instant best seller on its publication in 1985. His other books drew on his rich experiences as a neurologist gleaned over almost five decades of professional practice. Sacks's work was recognized by prestigious institutions which awarded him numerous honours and prizes. These included the Lewis Thomas Prize given by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He was an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and held honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Listeners: Kate Edgar

Kate Edgar, previously Managing Editor at the Summit Books division of Simon and Schuster, began working with Oliver Sacks in 1983. She has served as editor and researcher on all of his books, and has been closely involved with various films and adaptations based on his work. As friend, assistant, and collaborator, she has accompanied Dr Sacks on many adventures around the world, clinical and otherwise.

Tags: Travel Happy, Alabama, Antaeus

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012