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A Beautiful Mind | [Sylvia Nasar]

A Beautiful Mind

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.
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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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (190 )
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  •  
    James Springfield, MO, United States 08-28-11
    James Springfield, MO, United States 08-28-11 Member Since 2010

    New grandpa. Married 35 great years. Drink Batch 19,Tsing Tao, and Bohemia. Read Card, King, Hobb, Sawyer, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction.

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    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Shingle Springs Dr., CA, United States 11-07-11
    Anthony Shingle Springs Dr., CA, United States 11-07-11
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    "Good Story, Above average overall"

    Above average I would say but some of the math ideas and game theory explanations were complex to a regular guy such as myself. The story of Nash itself was interesting and held my attention. If you understand some of Nash's ideas or are familiar with his work then I would say this book is a must, and you shouldn't be reading my reviews anyway. I gave it 3 of five stars

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adail Retamal São Paulo, Brazil 10-29-12
    Adail Retamal São Paulo, Brazil 10-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "A Beautiful Book!"
    If you could sum up A Beautiful Mind in three words, what would they be?

    Worth the listening!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Of course, Nash himself, but his wife Alicia played a crucial role over all the plot, so she deserves a lot of credit for his remission.


    What does Anna Fields bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator changes the voice intonation when quoting a man's voice, and Nash's voice in a special way, so it's really entertaining and it helps following a dialogue!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Comparing to the movie, it's much better (as usual) and portraits the real issues and struggles.


    Any additional comments?

    It's not only about Nash's life, but the way the author contextualizes every relevant moment, providing background on places, people, science and world history, causes you to really immerse in that period of time, so you will be able to understand why and how the things developed the way they did. Great general knowledge update!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G Hassel Chicago Ridge, IL, United States 08-15-12
    G Hassel Chicago Ridge, IL, United States 08-15-12 Member Since 2011

    Musician

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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Riverton, WV, United States 03-11-12
    J Riverton, WV, United States 03-11-12 Member Since 2011
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    "very interesting!"

    I love the overall story about John Nash & the narrator was very good. The only issue I had with this book was it's very detailed descriptions about nearly everyone John ever met. All the history on these people seemed pointless for the most part.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    JAMES B HARRIS 05-20-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Too slow & way too many details"

    I am five hours into this and so far, it is not an enjoyable experience. The idea that he is a brilliant but strange guy is just beaten to death. Too much talk about the mathematical theories.....

    It is not a terrible book but it is also not entertaining. If you are someone that really enjoys math, maybe. But if you are reading just for the joy of reading, I would try something else or at the very least, go with the abridged version

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria Appleton, WI, USA 05-21-09
    Victoria Appleton, WI, USA 05-21-09 Member Since 2004
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    "Unless you are a math Ph.D..."

    One of the rare situations where I should have gotten the abridged version, which I can only assume is minus the complicated theories discussed in way too much detail. I had hoped to hear about John Nash's life, but can't get past the author's intellect. This was too difficult to listen to for me, and I suspect it would be the same for most people who are not mathematicians.

    11 of 17 people found this review helpful
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    Paul Roanoke, VA 06-11-10
    Paul Roanoke, VA 06-11-10 Member Since 2001
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    "A Great Book"

    This was an interesting story that is characteristic of so many brilliant people. There seems to be a very fine line between genious and mental illness. The book was filled with information different than the movie and it contained a great deal of information about advanced topics in mathematics. I recomend this for anyone interested in mind and math.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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    Anne Ruston, Louisiana, United States 07-18-13
    Anne Ruston, Louisiana, United States 07-18-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Rough Life Research not Romaticizised Movie Reel"

    A Beautiful Mind Book Review
    The movie entitled A Beautiful Mind was a romanticized tribute to the best of Dr. John Nash. A Beautiful Mind the book is researched truth, a tribute to the family and friends of Dr. John Nash who cared for him at his worst as well his best. I commend the author for the depth of research that went into this book as is inferred in the book's Acknowledgments. I commend the reader who read this book aloud. This documentation of the life of a mentally ill mathematical genius was not easy or light hearted reading.
    I am neither a mathematician nor a genius. The math in the book went in one ear and out the other. However, the math could not have been omitted because math made the man. Math was John Nash's mental anchor. It was the product of his genius.
    I read this book because like so many of the people referenced in this book, I have loved ones who suffer with mental illness. This book shines a bright light of hope into the dark side of mental illness. It honors those who care for the mentally ill and gives insight into the needs of the mentally ill. Mentally ill persons need a community in which they can be protected as well as productive . they need this peaceful place to connect as much if not more so than they need pills and psychology,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    MJ Mandan, ND, United States 09-25-12
    MJ Mandan, ND, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A Beautiful Listen"
    Would you listen to A Beautiful Mind again? Why?

    I'd listen to this book again. I'm almost one third thru the story, so I can't give much away, but what I've heard so far has been very interesting


    What did you like best about this story?

    I like biographies, I enjoy happy endings. This is a roller coaster ride for Nash, so I'm also along for the ride!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Like I said, I'm only finishing the 1st section of the book, it's all been building towards his decline.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    You think you know the ending, but what a story!


    Any additional comments?

    I almost didn't finish this book. The introduction was overwhelming. I'd get interested, then it would drone on into mathematical information, but then, fortunately, it would get interesting again. I'm glad I persevered!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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