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A Beautiful Mind Paperback – July 12, 2011
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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
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Naturally introverted, even at a young age, Nash was described as being "bookish and slightly odd." His mother had him reading by the time he was four and instead of coloring books, his father gave him science books to read. But despite his parents' efforts, the young Nash was prone to daydreaming in school, which led his teachers to describe him as an underachiever. A loner and the ultimate nerd, his best friends were books, his bedroom resembled a science lab, he was always the last to be chosen for baseball, and at a school dance, he danced with chairs rather than girls.
Although his elementary school math teachers complained he couldn't do the work, his mother noticed he wasn't following the teachers' instructions because he had devised a simpler way of solving the problems. By high school, he was deciphering problems his chemistry teacher wrote on the blackboard, without using pencil or paper. In college, his math professors would call on Nash when they themselves ran into problems solving complex equations they were presenting to their classes.
But together with his brilliance were eccentricities that became more evident as Nash aged. Those close to him characterized him as "disconnected" and "deeply unknowable."
He had little use for textbooks and was known for solving difficult (and often previously unsolvable) problems using "no references but his own mind.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really disliked this book. I found Nash to be a jerk. His whole attitude and demeanor were repulsive to me. His lack of caring about his "first family" was appalling. Read morePublished 4 days ago by read_read_read
I stumbled upon the audiobook version of "A Beautiful Mind" in the public library and decided to listen to it on some recent road trips. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Chad Oberholtzer
DO NOT read this book because it's a complete waste of time to listen to the author talking about random people and incidents. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lexseal