This 3-part book by Oliver Sacks from 1989 reviews the history of deaf education and language, the neurological underpinnings of language acquisition and deafness, and the student uprising at Gallaudet College in 1988.
The styles and language of the three parts are different. The history part is an amalgam of history and intertwined footnotes that are almost as long as the text. The “science” portion is the Sacks that many readers are familiar with, a blend of humane and intelligent prose that reveals profound insight into the world of research and human behavior. Part 3, about the student revolt, stands apart stylistically and effectively caps what is a fundamentally unusual overview of a topic about which I knew nothing before I read this book.
What did I learn? Quite a bit; Sacks is a good guide, though the observant reader can tell when he is treading in areas that are unfamiliar to him. But one if his messages is clear: Sign is a language, as evidenced by how its use relates to the social and intellectual development of deaf children.
What I would like to do now is to learn how the research discussed in this book has advanced since 1989. If readers can point me in the appropriate direction, I would be grateful.
Copyright (c) 2008 by Dennis D. McDonald