An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 30, 2012 - Science - 320 pages
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Zookeeper's Wife, an ambitious and enlightening work that combines an artist's eye with a scientist's erudition to illuminate, as never before, the magic and mysteries of the human mind.

Long treasured by literary readers for her uncommon ability to bridge the gap between art and science, celebrated scholar-artist Diane Ackerman returns with the book she was born to write. Her dazzling new work, An Alchemy of Mind, offers an unprecedented exploration and celebration of the mental fantasia in which we spend our days—and does for the human mind what the bestselling A Natural History of the Senses did for the physical senses.

Bringing a valuable female perspective to the topic, Diane Ackerman discusses the science of the brain as only she can: with gorgeous, immediate language and imagery that paint an unusually lucid and vibrant picture for the reader. And in addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, she reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses controversial subjects like the effects of trauma and male versus female brains. In prose that is not simply accessible but also beautiful and electric, Ackerman distills the hard, objective truths of science in order to yield vivid, heavily anecdotal explanations about a range of existential questions regarding consciousness, human thought, memory, and the nature of identity.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - twcox - LibraryThing

This 'lump on a stick', weighting less than three pounds, manages, in Ms. Ackerman's book, to become a very weighty subject. Her prose reads like poetry, and if you have never before read her work, as ... Read full review

AN ALCHEMY OF MIND: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

User Review  - Kirkus

A search for how the brain works, and where it ends and the mind begins.It must be tough for Ackerman (Cultivating Delight, 2001, etc.) to get through the day, enraptured as she is by the buzzing ... Read full review


Fictions Chapter 20 Introducing theSelf
Chapter24 Creating Minds

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About the author (2012)

Diane Ackerman is a naturalist and poet and the author of ten books of literary nonfiction, including A Natural History of the Senses, A Natural History of Love, and Cultivating Delight. Also the author of six volumes of poetry and several nonfiction children's books, she contributes to The New York Times, Discover, National Geographic, Parade, and many other publications. Ackerman lives in Ithaca, New York.

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