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A Beautiful Mind [Kindle Edition]

Sylvia Nasar
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $10.30
You Save: $7.70 (43%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

In this powerful and dramatic biography Sylvia Nasar vividly re-creates the life of a mathematical genius whose career was cut short by schizophrenia and who, after three decades of devastating mental illness, miraculously recovered and was honored with a Nobel Prize. A Beautiful Mind traces the meteoric rise of John Forbes Nash, Jr., a prodigy and legend by the age of thirty, who dazzled the mathematical world by solving a series of deep problems deemed "impossible" by other mathematicians.
But at the height of his fame, Nash suffered a catastrophic mental breakdown and began a harrowing descent into insanity, resigning his post at MIT, slipping into a series of bizarre delusions, and eventually becoming a dreamy, ghostlike figure at Princeton, scrawling numerological messages on blackboards. He was all but forgotten by the outside world -- until, remarkably, he emerged from his madness to win world acclaim. A feat of biographical writing, A Beautiful Mind is also a fascinating look at the extraordinary and fragile nature of genius.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Stories of famously eccentric Princetonians abound--such as that of chemist Hubert Alyea, the model for The Absent-Minded Professor, or Ralph Nader, said to have had his own key to the library as an undergraduate. Or the "Phantom of Fine Hall," a figure many students had seen shuffling around the corridors of the math and physics building wearing purple sneakers and writing numerology treatises on the blackboards. The Phantom was John Nash, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his generation, who had spiraled into schizophrenia in the 1950s. His most important work had been in game theory, which by the 1980s was underpinning a large part of economics. When the Nobel Prize committee began debating a prize for game theory, Nash's name inevitably came up--only to be dismissed, since the prize clearly could not go to a madman. But in 1994 Nash, in remission from schizophrenia, shared the Nobel Prize in economics for work done some 45 years previously.

Economist and journalist Sylvia Nasar has written a biography of Nash that looks at all sides of his life. She gives an intelligent, understandable exposition of his mathematical ideas and a picture of schizophrenia that is evocative but decidedly unromantic. Her story of the machinations behind Nash's Nobel is fascinating and one of very few such accounts available in print (the CIA could learn a thing or two from the Nobel committees). This highly recommended book is indeed "a story about the mystery of the human mind, in three acts: genius, madness, reawakening." --Mary Ellen Curtin

From Publishers Weekly

Nasar has written a notable biography of mathematical genius John Forbes Nash (b. 1928), a founder of game theory, a RAND Cold War strategist and winner of a 1994 Nobel Prize in economics. She charts his plunge into paranoid schizophrenia beginning at age 30 and his spontaneous recovery in the early 1990s after decades of torment. He attributes his remission to will power; he stopped taking antipsychotic drugs in 1970 but underwent a half-dozen involuntary hospitalizations. Born in West Virginia, the flamboyant mathematical wizard rubbed elbows at Princeton and MIT with Einstein, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener. He compartmentalized his secret personal life, shows Nasar, hiding his homosexual affairs with colleagues from his mistress, a nurse who bore him a son out of wedlock, while he also courted Alicia Larde, an MIT physics student whom he married in 1957. Their son, John, born in 1959, became a mathematician and suffers from episodic schizophrenia. Alicia divorced Nash in 1963, but they began living together again as a couple around 1970. Today Nash, whose mathematical contributions span cosmology, geometry, computer architecture and international trade, devotes himself to caring for his son. Nasar, an economics correspondent for the New York Times, is equally adept at probing the puzzle of schizophrenia and giving a nontechnical context for Nash's mathematical and scientific ideas.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 17805 KB
  • Print Length: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004QWZ5SA
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,492 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
144 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Martian Told Me to Read This Book January 14, 2002
Format:Paperback
Saw and tremendously enjoyed the movie, but kept thinking, this can't be the real story of John Nash. As impressed as I was with director Ron Howard's construction and Russell Crowe's acting, I still left the theater with too many questions...and doubts.
For the first time I can recall, I departed a movie and went directly to a bookstore to buy the book. (I'm still 100% on never purchasing a soundtrack CD from one of those theater vending machines.) This is NOT the same story as the movie. Nasar's biography of Nash is a thoroughly researched, riviting story that took me to worlds I've never known (advanced mathmatics and severe mental illness). It is a fast-paced read, a book I could not put down.
There has been controversy about some of the details from the book being left out of the movie, but I think Ron Howard departed masterfully from the book to provide the escence of Nash's story without bogging down in some confusing issues that Nasar, in a book form, handles with appropriate detail and context.
Watch the movie and read the book. Both are great. But they are different.
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88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book January 13, 2002
Format:Paperback
If you enjoyed the movie "A Beautiful Mind" you will love this book. It is far richer in detail, context, and let's us a bit deeper into why what Nash accomplished was so beautiful. If you find the movie a bit of a problem because it seems a bit too glossy for the facts, again, you will love this book.
For me, the movie did a marvelous job of embodying the spirit of the book. To delve more deeply into the facts of Nash's life and accomplishments and his illness would require a documentary or a mini-series. The movie is really a narrative poem about Nash. This book is about the people and their experiences. It is NOT a direct exposition of Nash's technical achievements. There are other books such as "The Essential John Nash" that provide that information.
In this masterful book we find out more about his youth, his life at college, his work after he received his doctorate and his breakdown and illness as well as the nature and scope of his recovery. There is real sorrow and loss in the book, but there is also strength and tenacity that refuses to yield to hopelessness and despair. This is a book about the people and how they lived during the storms of his achievements and his illness.
I am not qualified to discuss the quality of Nash's achievements, but from the admiration lavished on him by his peers and how they rallied round him it is clear that Nash was given immense gifts that he developed and used in ways that have benefited all of us even if we are unaware it.
It seems that this is the nature of the gifts scientists and mathematicians give us. We are unaware of them until another person makes them part of other products, services, and policies that directly affect us.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maximum Involvement December 31, 2001
Format:Paperback
I was led to the book by a movie review in the NYT that said the movie did not tell the story of the book and that it was very serious and important story. I am writing this review because having read it I would like to discuss it.
Though there is some redundancy in the text, I still read every word. The exploration of the themes of genius and acknowledged contributions, followed by more than 30 years of paranoid schizophrenia and then remission and recognition is gripping.
The care of the biographer in acknowledging and noting her sources is very unusual for most popular and semi-popular biographers. That she took her subject and his work and his journey seriously is never in doubt. There is no pseudo psych. There is lots of exploration. The author explores very sensitive areas thou rally, but sensitively.
Nash's homosexuality, his seeming contempt for people and their feelings nothing is left out. His forty-five year relationship with the woman who has been his wife is not a simple story and the author takes her time to present the facts. Still, she does not judge, she reports.
I did enjoy the sections about Princeton and MIT and the world of mathematicians. An economics PhD candidate I had dinner with said, "I heard it's all about relationships and not mathematics". The mathematicians in the book say economics is not very serious math. (Nash seems to agree with that in an ironic way.)
In short I was charmed by the book, it gave me a lot a material with which to consider the nature of genius, mathematical accomplishment, mental illness and (particularly the effect of other people on ones sense of self) and what is meant by a whole life.
I understand that there is a lot of talk about love in the movie. In the book the word is not mentioned once-these are not touchy feely folk, still love and friendship are very important to the story.
Read the book.
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79 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Biography July 24, 1999
Format:Paperback
While I wasn't gripped by this biography until about a third of the way through, when it grabbed my attention it did so powerfully. While I agree with the reviewer below who suggests that this is not the book to read if you're interested exclusively in the the technical features of Nash's mathematical contributions, I believe that this criticism is misplaced. The book (it seems to me) is intended for an intelligent lay audience; it doesn't pretend to be a survey of his scientific accomplishments and failures.
I was especially struck by the truly immense amount of competition that exists among math scholars for status. Although portraying this competition is hardly the principal aim of Nasar's beautiful book, she conveys the intensity of the struggle among scholars for recognition with impressive clarity and perspective.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine for both mathematicians and non-mathematicians
Fascinating to read, in spite of (or maybe because of) the exhaustive detail about every aspect of Nash's personal, psychological, marital, and professional life--a life that... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Early Reviewer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Too much emphasis on analyzing; not enough human drama
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent
Published 1 month ago by Sulaiman
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read
I appreciated this book for the depth of historical perspective it offered about mathematics, John Nash's struggle with schizophrenia, and the politics involved in the Nobel... Read more
Published 2 months ago by DGB
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Mind
Upon starting this book, I was expecting it to be written in the format of the movie, a real drama. However, this book is a biography, and it is written as such. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sandra Brazier
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Lost And Found
John Forbes Nash Jr. seemed an object of both admiration and pity from his earliest days. An undeniable prodigy, he was capable of brilliant insights that were regrettably... Read more
Published 3 months ago by John D. Cofield
3.0 out of 5 stars in depth reading
time consuming so thank golly I got it on audio for a long drive
Published 3 months ago by G. Green
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD GIFT
Gift for grand girl
Published 3 months ago by Brian Ackerman
2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment
I was very disappointed in A Beautiful Mind and couldn't finish it. There seemed to be too much math "talk" that I couldn't get past to get to the actual person and story. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jean
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Seller's Descrip WAY off!
This particular book from this particular seller was very bent and dog-eared. I did leave seller feedback, I'm just saying. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Heather Brown
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