This is one of those rare books that does a great job of combining personal memoir with scientific explanations. The author experienced first hand the groundbreaking discoveries about brain function over the last 50+ years, and as a Nobel Prize winner for physiology/medicine he was a major player as well. With this perspective, he traces the scientific questions about the brain as they evolved over his career.
The author talks about many of the scientists and their methods in making these important discoveries, including his own experiments and motivations, he describes their significance in the evolution of the field, and he puts it all in the context of a personal narrative as an Austrian Jewish emigrant escaping Vienna before the worst of the holocaust and moving the the United States. If it sounds like a lot to tackle, that's because it is! But the book is very well organized, and presenting the science as part of a larger narrative, both personal and scientific, ties everything together very nicely. If there are moments of fatigue (for this non-biologist) reading about the details of the molecular biology of the brain and electrical experiments on neurons in Aplysia (a very large sea slug that figures prominently in Kandel's work on memory), they are a small price to pay for a beautiful history of the beginning of a very important science.