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A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical…

A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John… (original 1998; edition 2001)

by Sylvia Nasar

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Title:A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash
Authors:Sylvia Nasar
Info:Simon & Schuster (2001), Edition: Reissue, Paperback
Collections:Your library

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A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar (1998)



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Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Since I began reading A Beautiful Mind the question I've been asked most is: "How does it compare to the movie?" The simple answer: I don't know. I have not seen the film and after reading the book I have no desire to either. Even after having read the entire book from cover to cover and looking at the scant number of photographs included I come away feeling like I've learned very little about John Nash beyond what I already knew.

The first third of the book serves more as a who's who in Nash's life than as a biography of Nash. Even Princeton University has a chapter. Princeton is a fairly well known institution, it doesn't need to be introduced as a character! The second third covers all of Nash's sexual exploits or potential exploits with men and women. Yawn. The final third deals with his mental breakdown and the people who tried to help him pull out of it. The final third was the most interesting piece of the book but it comes too late to save the book from being an over all dull and pointless read. ( )
  pussreboots | Feb 1, 2015 |
Wonderfully read by Edward Herrmann, this biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994, was interesting and informative. I never saw the movie, but I am much more inclined to do so now. ( )
  VincentDarlage | Jan 30, 2015 |
A well written biography about an arrogant mathematician who did genius level work early in his career but succumbed to schizophrenia in his thirties. A good book to read for those interested in abnormal psychology or math. Probably more of us are interested in the former rather than the latter. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 14, 2014 |
Sylvia Nasar's biography of John Nash tells the story of this mathematical genius with precision, excellent scholarship and attention to background details that puts the motivations and actions of this man in the context of the time in which he was most active. She describes Cold War politics and McCarthyism, both of which had profound effects on mathematicians and physicists during the 50s, 60s and 70s. So why am I giving this book only 3 stars? Well, quite frankly, I didn't like the man! As we all know from the movie (which I actually haven't seen), he becomes schizophrenic, which occurs half way through the book. Before that, he was an insecure, arrogant tyrant who belittled anyone whose intellect did not measure up to his standards. Although blessed with positions at some of our most prestigious institutions, he was an indifferent teacher at best and a nasty one on the bad days. I kept thinking, "why do I have to wait for him to become schizophrenic (in the second half of the book) to develop empathy for this guy?" However that was the case. I certainly have enjoyed books about far worse people (e.g. Adolf Eichmann). I guess the way he treated his lovers, wife and children really got to me. Nevertheless, the book is really an excellent biography, well-researched and worth reading. Also, the story of him recovering his intellectual abilities, conquering schizophrenia as well as winning a Nobel Prize and reestablishing a life with his loved ones is very inspiring and redeeming. ( )
  krazy4katz | Apr 2, 2014 |
Reality, as reflected in this book, and the story told on film were actually quite different. I think that the true stories from the book were far more interesting than those chosen to be shown on film. In this case, people interested in John Nash are doing themselves a tremendous disservice if they skip the book in favour of the film. ( )
  ScribbleKey | Jan 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Sylvia Nasar, an economics correspondent for the New York Times, presents the life "without theory" of John Forbes Nash Jr., a mathematical genius and inventor of theories of rational behavior, who was a Wunderkind at Princeton when it was populated by the likes of Albert Einstein, John von Neumann and other 20th century luminaries.
added by mikeg2 | editSalon, Richard Dooling (Jun 29, 1998)

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nasar, Sylviaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hansen-Schmidt, AnjaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Plieninger, CäcilieTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edward HerrmannNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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John Forbes Nash, Jr. - mathematical genius, inventor of a theory of rational behavior, visionary of the thinking machine - had been sitting with his visitor, also a mathematician, for nearly half an hour.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743224574, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:48 -0400)

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The true story of John Nash, the math genius who was a legend by age thirty when he slipped into madness; through the selflessness of a beautiful woman and the loyalty of the mathematics community he emerged after decades of ghostlike existence to win a Nobel Prize; now a major motion picture--Cover.… (more)

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