The Noonday Demon

  • by Andrew Solomon
  • Narrated by Barrett Whitener
  • 22 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2001
With uncommon humanity, candor, wit, and erudition, National Book Award winner Andrew Solomon takes the listener on a journey of incomparable range and resonance into the most pervasive of family secrets.
The Noonday Demon examines depression in personal, cultural, and scientific terms. Drawing on his own struggles with the illness and interviews with fellow sufferers, doctors and scientists, policymakers and politicians, drug designers and philosophers, Solomon reveals the subtle complexities and sheer agony of the disease. He confronts the challenge of defining the illness and describes the vast range of available medications, the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the impact the malady has had on various demographic populations around the world and throughout history. He also explores the thorny patch of moral and ethical questions posed by emerging biological explanations for mental illness.
The depth of human experience Solomon chronicles, the range of his intelligence, and his boundless curiosity and compassion will change the listener's view of the world.

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What the Critics Say

"All encompassing, brave, and deeply humane.... It is open-minded, critically informed, and poetic at the same time, and despite the nature of its subject it is written with far too much élan and elegance ever to become depressing itself." (The New York Times)
"Both heartrending and fascinating.... the book has a scope and passionate intelligence that give it intrigue as well as heft." (Boston Globe)
"The book for a generation.... Solomon interweaves a personal narrative with scientific, philosophical, historical, political, and cultural insights.... The result is an elegantly written, meticulously researched book that is empathetic and enlightening, scholarly and useful.... Solomon apologizes that 'no book can span the reach of human suffering.' This one comes close." (TIme)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Moments of awesome but not clear message

This is a great book if you want to hang out with depression in its many forms. It's like a fleamarket for depression-related thoughts, scenes, and events. There are moments of perfection - stories of assisted suicide, of people who attempt to get infected with HIV, insides of mental hospitals, individuals with moving life stories and many more.

If this book had been written as a series of focused short stories, like 'The man who mistook his wife for a hat' or 'phantoms in the brain', it would have worked perfectly.

As it is, the book seems long, at times a little scattered, and one sometimes can feel that they are reading a memoir of the author rather than a book about depression itself. It lacks a clear message: based mostly on personal stories with little synthesis, it is reminiscent of many other books about scientific topics that are written by non-experts with a journalistic bent - while fun, you may not really learn anything new.
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- Cristina

Thorough and personal

Noonday Demon is Andrew Solomon's amazing memoir / history of depression - it's a must-read for anyone who wants to delve deeply into the causes and effects of depression. Solomon begins with his own journey through several severe depressive episodes. For a broader personal understanding of depression, he intermittently includes stories of "depressives" that he's interviewed. In his research for this book, Solomon explored many standard therapies for depression (i.e. medicine, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, etc.); but he also explored some very atypical therapies such as an African ritual in which he lay naked and covered in goat blood while people danced around him with a dead chicken. (He actually found it very cathartic.)

He followed his personal journey with epidemiology, biological causes, and historical development of depression.

I found this book fascinating. Solomon did a great job of inserting little vignettes of his own story or stories of people he interviewed into his more intellectual portions of the book, so that the material never became dry despite its length. Solomon came up with so many interesting points that I was always interested in what he would say next. His own story was touching. His facts seemed very well-researched. In short, it was simply an amazing book.

The narration was quite good, no complaints there!
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- Rachel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-25-2012
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio