...[a] brilliant and sparklingly humane book ... In its meandering but always colourful manner, the book weaves in to its medical history and host of modern case studies some more discursive sequences ... He also reminds us, rightly, that the language of illness is inescapably political.
As Silberman collects these compelling figures, he makes a quiet argument that autism has always been among us, that its features define one of the many dimensions of human potential. His book is never far from a human face, from a personal story that reminds the reader how much is at stake ... His book is a wide-ranging and authoritative history of autism. That history echoes through the lives of the many people affected by autism, and it will resonate with anyone whose experience registers outside narrowing definitions of normal.
...[an] ambitious, meticulous and largehearted (if occasionally long-winded) history ... The implications here are staggering: Had the definition included Asperger’s original, expansive vision, it’s quite possible we wouldn’t have been hunting for environmental causes or pointing our fingers at anxious parents. This is, without a doubt, a provocative argument that Silberman is making, one sure to draw plenty of pushback and anger. But he traces his history with scrupulous precision, and along the way he treats us to charming, pointillist portraits of historical figures who are presumed to have had Asperger’s ... His book drags in places. Almost every character who appears in NeuroTribes, no matter how minor, is supplied with a back story so long it reaches a vanishing point.