A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash

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Simon & Schuster, Dec 4, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 464 pages
In this biography, Sylvia Nasar re-creates the life of a mathematical genius whose brilliant career was cut short by schizophrenia and who, after three decades of devastating mental illness, miraculously recovered and was honored with a Nobel Prize. A Beautiful Mind traces the meteoric rise of John Forbes Nash, Jr., from his lonely childhood in West Virginia to his student years at Princeton, where he encountered Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, and a host of other mathematical luminaries. At twenty-one, the handsome, ambitious, eccentric graduate student invented what would become the most influential theory of rational human behavior in modern social science. Nash's contribution to game theory would ultimately revolutionize the field of economics. At thirty, Nash was poised to take his dreamed-of place in the pantheon of history's greatest mathematicians. Then Nash suffered a catastrophic mental breakdown Nasar details Nash's harrowing descent into insanity - his bizarre delusions that he was the Prince of Peace; his resignation from MIT, flight to Europe, and attempt to renounce his American citizenship; his repeated hospitalizations, from the storied McLean, where he came to know the poet Robert Lowell, to the crowded wards of a state hospital; his "enforced interludes of rationality" during which he was able to return briefly to mathematical research. At age sixty-six, twin miracles - a spontaneous remission of his illness and the sudden decision of the Nobel Prize committee to honor his contributions to game theory - restored the world to him. Nasar recounts the bitter behind-the-scenes battle in Stockholm over whether to grant the ultimate honor in science to a man thought to be "mad." She describes Nash's current ambition to pursue new mathematical breakthroughs and his efforts to be a loving father to his adult sons.

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User Review  - foof2you - LibraryThing

The biography of John Nash a brilliant man whose mental illness interrupts his life and affects those around him. He seems to be different or strange long before the mental illness takes over his life ... Read full review

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User Review  - JRCornell - LibraryThing

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 Priz Read full review

Contents

Prologue
11
Bluefield 192845
25
Carnegie Institute of Technology June 1945June 1948
40
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Sylvia Nasar is the author of the bestselling A Beautiful Mind, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. She is the John S. and James. L Knight Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

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