a failure for not being an academic? This is a well-written book with many interesting stories. In particularly, I enjoyed the chapters on genius in general, and Chris Langan (IQ around 200) specifically. I don't think he is a failure for not becoming an academic, however. He has always been gainfully employed and used his physical strength as well as some practical intelligence as a bouncer. Plus, he reads and writes extensively. Formal higher education frequently involves a series of hoops to jump through, not deep thinking.
If success is defined as accomplishing your goals, and Langan's goal was to become an academic, he might be considered a failure in that respect. But if his goal was simply to be gainfully employed or to be a bouncer, then by this definition he would be considered a success. Whether or not a person is successful depends on what your definition of success is.
I agree with that statement. However, sometimes the initial goal doesn't satisfy and another definition of success becomes necessary. Goals are one thing, but people change their ideas. The book never stated what his goals were. He came from difficult beginnings and perhaps just surviving was the goal.
He probably knows things nobody else knows and the author's view is that his only chance to be "taken seriously" would be to achieve academic credentials. However, I believe there may not be many people who would understand his ideas because of his extremely high IQ.