Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

John Von Neumann: The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered the Modern Computer, Game Theory, Nuclear Deterrence, and Much More 2nd Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0821826768
ISBN-10: 082182676X
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Trade in your item
Get a $12.35
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$25.65 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$31.20 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
18 New from $31.20 19 Used from $25.65
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
$31.20 FREE Shipping. Only 14 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • John Von Neumann: The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered the Modern Computer, Game Theory, Nuclear Deterrence, and Much More
  • +
  • Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century
  • +
  • Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb
Total price: $64.69
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Von Neumann (1903-1957), the mathematical prodigy who exercised deadly cool logic in developing the Los Alamos atom bomb and in placing Hiroshima on America's list of target cities, was an excessively polite, self-critical, shy genius. Born to a cultured Jewish family in Budapest, this bright light of Weimar Germany and of Depression-era Princeton is usually remembered as a warmonger and a right-wing hawk. But in this affectionate, humanizing biography, former Economist editor Macrae limns a prescient pragmatist who actively fought against fascism and who advocated a policy of nuclear deterrence because he foresaw that Stalin's Soviet Union would rapidly acquire the bomb and develop rocketry. A prime architect of the modern digital computer, von Neumann brought about a revolution in meteorology and left his mark on physics, game theory and economics. Macrae makes these contributions accessible to the lay reader, and also discusses von Neumann's relationships with two long-suffering wives, his political differences with Einstein and the cancer that killed him.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Macrae, former editor of the Economist and author of The 2025 Report (1985), offers an oddly jocular biography of the Hungarian mathematical prodigy who would become a highly influential cold warrior before his death in 1957--an account whose credibility is hindered by the author's unabashed reverence for his subject. One of the four Hungarian geniuses who would help introduce the Atomic Age at Los Alamos (the others were Edward Teller, Leo Szilard, and Eugene Wigner), von Neumann made his mark in Europe while barely past his teens through his contributions to a mathematical foundation for the new quantum physics. In 1930, the young, newly married mathematician emigrated to America to teach at Princeton. While von Neumann moved on in succeeding years to increasingly influential posts at the Institute for Advanced Study, the Los Alamos atom-bomb project, Teller's hydrogen-bomb program, and, finally, the freshly created Atomic Energy Commission, his agile and highly logical mind left an indelible mark on the computer revolution, games theory, economics, and, as his political clout increased, international relations. Despite the fact that the general reader is as likely to be interested in the development of von Neumann's hawkish political stance (particularly regarding the nuclear-arms race), and his odd fascination with such topics as global government and control of the weather, as in his scientific contributions, Macrae veers away from serious exploration of his subject's philosophical outlook--instead emphasizing (and applauding) the ease with which ``our Johnny'' used dirty jokes to evade emotional political debate, and ridiculing those of differing political temperament (e.g., deeming ``Bertie'' Russell and Norbert Wiener ``geniuses turned emotionally too dotty''). The effect is off-putting, and though ``Johnny's'' romp through world affairs is dutifully recounted, the private motivations of this hard-drinking, power-loving genius remain, in quintessential 50's style, drowned in nervous laughter. (B&w photos--16 pages--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 406 pages
  • Publisher: American Mathematical Society; 2 edition (October 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082182676X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821826768
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark K. Yasuda on April 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Easily the worst scientific biography I've ever read. All themore pity, as John Von Neumann is a genuinely fascinating subject forstudy. Regrettably, MacRae is completely unqualified for the task of writing a biography on Von Neumann. By his own admission (page 138), he last took a course in high school mathematics around the age of 15 and it shows throughout the book (witness his ridiculous illustration of a Hilbert Space on pages 138-139). He also possesses no understanding of physics (for example, on page 131, he's characterizing general relativity as the theory "which explained the odd things that happen when something moves at near the speed of light" and on page 301 he lists quantum mechanics among subjects in which "simple linear equations had ruled"). Even in economics, which is his supposed specialty, he cannot provide any original insights. The first example he uses for game theory is well known - he lifts the Morra example from Bronowski's "Ascent of Man" without modification, and essentially lifts another example from another textbook. With his very limited background, MacRae can offer no real perspective on Von Neumann's works, and so he patches together quotes from other sources to do the job for him.
MacRae's lack of qualifications aren't by themselves a reason to avoid this book, as a suitably well footnoted synthesis of source material coupled with relevant interviews would have provided a certain amount of value. Unfortunately, there are no footnotes (just a bibliography) and most of the source material which MacRae does use is already readily accessible in less flawed and better written books. Furthermore, MacRae is so endlessly repetitive in several of his characterizations of Von Neumann, that it becomes downright nauseating.
Read more ›
2 Comments 133 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a prodigious reader of biographies--of all sorts, but mostly those of persons of science and mathematics (probably read about a hundred)--I feel qualified to say that this biography of John von Neumann is one of the greatest written biographies available today. While the previous reviewers are completely correct in that there is little detailed technical information, the book more than compensates for this in its other aspects. The book is filled with fantastic anecdotes regarding John von Neumann's eccentricities and his extraordinary displays of his unparalleled abilities at mental calculation, problem solving, and memorization. (He was able to memorize entire book chapters verbatim and recite them 15 years later. He could easily multiply two eight digit numbers in his head. And so on...) The few stories that aren't breathtaking are downright hilarious! They often show the jovial side (and sometimes licentious side) of this man, who was one of the single greatest minds of the past millenium.

I particularly recommend this book for all types of quantitative thinkers, or even scholars of any sort who wish to widen their purview of the world. Von Neumann helps to define what it means to be an exemplary scientist. Furthermore, he does a great job of showing the moral responsibilities and gentlemanly behavior required of men of his stature and fame.

In the historical domain, this biography necessarily beats out most others simply because von Neumann was so intimately connected with some of the big scientific and political events of the 21st century (Hungarian education and WWI, Quantum Mechanics, the A-bomb and WWII, the Digital Computer, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and the Cold War, etc.).
Read more ›
Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
It seems that as time passes and nuclear secrets are gradually declassified, we get longer and longer biographies of John von Neumann. MacRae's biography is helpful, partly because it is fairly recent, and partly because MacRae gives us a glimpse of the worldly side of John von Neumann. The book captures his social style, his special expertise at bluffing, his sense of academic showmanship, his political power -- and shows how adroitly he used that power and his own mystique to push through his technical insights and decisions.
Von Neumann was a trained chemical engineer. Although chemistry is usually remarked as the slightest of his credentials, he knew it and used it. This book includes the story of how he applied mathematics and chemistry to the development, delivery and control of explosive weapons - first chemical, and then nuclear.
Von Neumann's work on explosives is a common thread that runs through his work and pulls together many of his interests that - seen in isolation - seem amazingly disparate. His interests in computers, aerodynamics, parlour game theory and even meteorology were all rooted in or entrained by his fascination with explosive weapons. (For a thermonuclear weapon, for example, the weather is a delivery system for fallout.)
In 1938, von Neumann first became a consultant to the United States military, working at the Aberdeen proving grounds in Maryland. He began by improving the aim of very large guns with explosive shells. It was a surprisingly complicated business because it involved winds aloft, turbulent flow, impacts, and expanding shock fronts of explosive charges. It was on one of his frequent trips to Aberdeen that he encountered one of the University of Pennsylvania engineers working on ENIAC.
Read more ›
Comment 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

John Von Neumann: The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered the Modern Computer, Game Theory, Nuclear Deterrence, and Much More
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: John Von Neumann: The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered the Modern Computer, Game Theory, Nuclear Deterrence, and Much More

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: science books, isaac newton biography