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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
"Atlas" is an apt word to describe this riveting chronicle of depression, which covers the author's own harrowing experience, as well as the accounts of numerous others. The detail with which Solomon describes the nuances and subtle moods of depression -- as many as there are points on a map -- is stunning. Days are composed of moments that alternate wildly between a suffocating blanket of anxieties and irrational fears; more manageable, but equally inescapable, malaise; haunting memories of past pleasures and pain; inexplicable grief; even moments pregnant with hope for recovery, or at least, remission -- each mood rendered with a precision that engrosses the reader in Solomon's agonizing ordeal. Never has a writer rendered such a vivid portrait of depression as a disease of the mind.
The gripping personal accounts that serve as the book's framework are gracefully dovetailed with a more clinical examination of this debilitating disease -- scientific findings, the history of depression, a view of the illness in its political context, and the options for treatment are all expounded throughout the course of Solomon's story. Readers who have suffered from depression will identify with the long succession of therapies, medications, and psychoanalysts the author recounts. However, few depressives have gone to such lengths to alleviate their suffering; in one fascinating chapter Solomon describes a trip he made to Africa to undergo the mystical ndeup ceremony that is said to eradicate mental illness.
In the field of "depression memoirs," which is often rife with self-pity and navel-gazing, this book sets a new standard. It is a mature, perceptive, and compassionate reflection -- not without a touch of humor -- on a topic that affects almost everyone in some way. Solomon's graceful blending of the disparate elements that make up the experience of depression positions The Noonday Demon to be the landmark work on this disease for both sufferers and health care professionals. (Karen Burns)