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Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle Award, Biography/Autobiography, 1999
John Forbes Nash, Jr., a prodigy and legend by the age of 30, 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 the Nobel Prize.
A true drama, A Beautiful Mind is also a fascinating look at the extraordinary and fragile nature of genius.
©1998 Sylvia Nasar; (P)1999 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"A Beautiful Mind tells a moving story and offers a remarkable look into the arcane world of mathematics and the tragedy of madness." (New York Times Book Review)
"Nasar tells a story of triumph, tragedy, and enduring love." (Library Journal)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Jim "The Impatient" on 08-28-11

Informative not entertaining

This book is nothing like the movie. The movie skipped everything that would make you dislike John Nash and that is a lot. Nash was an A##hole. Yet the book is more true to life. My wife is a coach to the math team from our state and she will tell you that many geniuses are similar to Nash, mostly unsociable. Of course that is because our society puts down overachievers. In school it is not cool to be the smart kid. If you liked Einstein by Walter Isaacson, then you will like this book. There is a lot in here not only about Nash, but also about the geniuses he was around. There is also a lot in here about his disease. I found this book more informative then entertaining. It was real, it was good, it just was not real good.

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26 of 29 people found this review helpful


By TheHassel on 08-15-12

Its a biography of a mathematician.

Seeing the reviews below, I have to say: Its a biography of a mathematician. If you don't have any idea of what game theory, set theory, or quantum mechanics is... you might not get many references in this book. That being said there is very little "actual" math in the book; so math hesitant listeners need not beware. Most listeners with a well-rounded knowledge in mathematics and science will be able to understand and enjoy this book.

It does delve, perhaps slightly obtusely, into the history of Princeton, the IAS, etc. but the author uses this to help the listener really understand the environment and world that Nash was living in. Plus there are lots of anecdotal stories about Einstein, Von Neumann, etc. that are actually quite interesting.

There were a few times in the first few chapters I laughed out loud. :) I would recommend this book for anyone who is not already familiar with the real story of John Nash (not the movie) and has an interest in learning about how one of the great mathematicians of our time lived.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Mr. P. D. Selman on 06-28-16

Very different to the movie

It seems to be a commonly held belief that genius often goes hand-in-hand with mental illness. I've often wondered if this is actually the case or whether it's just that most people have never heard of most genius level intellects that aren't afflicted in this way. How many of us could honestly say we'd ever have heard of John Nash if it weren't for his prolonged battle with schizophrenia (if 'battle' is even the right word)?

I admit that I'd not heard of him until my wife recommended the movie to me after watching it with friends. I quickly bought it and loved it (I know which side my bread is buttered, folks) and this lead me to read the book the movie is based on.

Having now finished the book, I have to say that it's made me reappraise the film. While I'm sure I'd still enjoy the movie, I now see that it is an extremely idealised version of Nash's life. It has left out large chunks of the less sympathetic aspects of the man's personality. It's almost impossible to say how much of Nash's (how to put this?) dickish behaviour was due to his as-yet-undiagnosed schizophrenia but it is clear (to this reader, anyway) that the man was a rather unlikeable individual long before he became ill.

I don't, however, only want to read about people I'd like to have a drink with and, despite the rather unsavoury aspects of Nash's character, this is undeniably a fascinating book and I'm very glad I read it. It manages to be a 'warts-and-all' autobiography without ever stooping to sensationalism and remains respectful of its subject even while recounting some of his worst facets. I recommend it to anybody who has seen the movie version that would like to know the truth behind the Hollywood fairytale.

It's also made me want to read more about game theory...

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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