The Master and His Emissary
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The Master and His Emissary : The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

By (author) Iain McGilchrist

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In a book of unprecedented scope--now available in a larger format-Iain McGilchrist presents a fascinating exploration of the differences between the brain's left and right hemispheres, and how those differences have affected society, history, and culture. McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent research in neuroscience and psychology to reveal that the difference is profound: the left hemisphere is detail oriented, while the right has greater breadth, flexibility, and generosity. McGilchrist then takes the reader on a journey through the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought and belief of thinkers and artists from Aeschylus to Magritte. "A landmark new book...It tells a story you need to hear, of where we live now."-Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times "A very remarkable book...McGilchrist, who is both an experienced psychiatrist and a shrewd philosopher, looks at the relation between our two brain-hemispheres in a new light, not just as an interesting neurological problem but as a crucial shaping factor in our culture ...splendidly thought-provoking...I couldn't put it down." -Mary Midgley, The Guardian Named one of the best books of 2010 by The Guardian

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  • Paperback | 544 pages
  • 144 x 214 x 36mm | 679.99g
  • 09 Oct 2012
  • Yale University Press
  • New Haven
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 15 colour images + 20 black-&-white illustrations
  • 0300188374
  • 9780300188370
  • 6,682

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Author Information

Iain McGilchrist is a former fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, where he taught literature before training in medicine. He was consultant psychiatrist and clinical director at the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospital, London, and has researched in neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. He now works privately in London and otherwise lives on the Isle of Skye.

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Review quote

"A landmark new book... It tells a story you need to hear, of where we live now." (Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times) "A very remarkable book... McGilchrist, who is both an experienced psychiatrist and a shrewd philosopher, looks at the relation between our two brain-hemispheres in a new light, not just as an interesting neurological problem but as a crucial shaping factor in our culture... splendidly thought-provoking... I couldn't put it down." (Mary Midgley, The Guardian) "A giant in his vital field shows convincingly that the degeneracy of the West springs from our failure to manage the binary division of our brains." (Book of the Year choice, David Cox, Evening Standard) "A beautifully written, erudite, fascinating, and adventurous book. It goes from the microstructure of the brain to great epochs of Western civilisation, confidently and readably. One turns its five hundred pages... as if it were an adventure story." (A. C. Grayling, Literary Review) "To call Iain McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary... an account of brain hemispheres is to woefully misrepresent its range. McGilchrist persuasively argues that our society is suffering from the consequences of an over-dominant left hemisphere losing touch with its natural regulative 'master', the right." (Salley Vicker, The Guardian) "McGilchrist, for whom certainty is the greatest of illusions, has produced an absolutely convincing narrative of who we are." (Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph) Named one of the best books of 2010 by (The Guardian)"

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