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The Prodigy: A Biography of William James Sidis, America's Greatest Child Prodigy | [Amy Wallace]

The Prodigy: A Biography of William James Sidis, America's Greatest Child Prodigy

William Sidis, 1897-1944, was the world's greatest child prodigy. His IQ was an estiamted 50 to 100 points higher than Einstein's, the highest ever recorded or estimated. His father, a pioneer in the field of abnormal psychology, believed that he and his wife could create a genius in the cradle. They hung alphabet blocks over the baby's crib-and within six months little Billy was speaking. At 18 months he was reading The New York Times; at three, Homer in the original Greek. At six he spoke at least seven languages.
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Publisher's Summary

William Sidis, 1897-1944, was the world's greatest child prodigy. His IQ was an estiamted 50 to 100 points higher than Einstein's, the highest ever recorded or estimated. His father, a pioneer in the field of abnormal psychology, believed that he and his wife could create a genius in the cradle. They hung alphabet blocks over the baby's crib-and within six months little Billy was speaking. At 18 months he was reading The New York Times; at three, Homer in the original Greek. At six he spoke at least seven languages.

Told with flair and insight ... this is his story.

©1986, 2011 Amy Wallace (P)2011 David N. Wilson

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  •  
    Tom B. Chicago, IL 05-13-12
    Tom B. Chicago, IL 05-13-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A tarnished national treasure lost forever"
    Where does The Prodigy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Among biographies, this book ranks highly and is very thorough in its treatment of the subject. A very worthwhile listen and the best that I've heard this year.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The relationship with his sister Helena was perhaps the most uplifting as she was the one person in the family who never turned her back on her brother.


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

    He does a very good job of keeping the listener enthralled throughout the telling of the story. There are only two small slips of the audio whereby a sentence is repeated twice.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The book kept me captivated throughout and also served as a cautionary tale for me as a father.


    Any additional comments?

    The author is almost completely silent on why the father was never mentioned again, either positively or negatively after his passing. This was surprising, since the relationship seems to have been much stronger than that of the one between William and his mother.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dal CARY, NC, United States 08-06-12
    dal CARY, NC, United States 08-06-12
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    "The Human Brain is a Complex Thing"

    What happened to William James Sidis is not surprising. Sad, yes, but nothing as complex as the human brain can be predictable. He had great potential as a child but so did Bobby Fischer, the greatest chess player of all time. Both, after amazing feats of brilliance, burned out. "Endgame" can be found at Audible.

    If you get a chance, listen to both "The Prodigy" and "Endgame" and compare these two brilliant, but ultimately tragic men. There are many similar examples.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David warren, AR, United States 08-24-13
    David warren, AR, United States 08-24-13
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    "Interesting, credible account."

    Heavily researched and accessibly written. I have to give Ms. Wallace her due.

    However, this story could have been told in a tighter prose. It also could have been more engaging by skillful use of the substantial drama throughout Sidis' life.

    I was looking for a lot more detail on the specifics of his early childhood, but it's just an overview of the family peppered with a few colorful anecdotes. This is no how-to-guide and gives very little detail on the how Sarah Sidis produced such a remarkable individual.

    Also, the author seems to echo the disparaging and dismissive attitude of the press at the time, treating Sidis as a cautionary tale - a victim of his own eccentricity. A premise I generally disagree with and dislike. I believe such treatment of Sidis and his ilk illustrates a deep insecurity in society and a need to discredit genius - the greater the genius, the greater the need to tear down that individual.

    If this topic interests you, it's a recommend, but just barely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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