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A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994 (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – Juni 1998

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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

Pressestimmen

Oliver Sacks "A Beautiful Mind" is a splendid book, deeply interesting and extraordinarily moving, remarkable for its sympathetic insights into both genius and schizophrenia. It is equally gripping as a portrait of the mathematical community at Princeton and of Nash's friends and family, and the perhaps crucial part they played in his psychic survival and eventual emergence.

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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In the first few chapters of this book you learn to dislike John Nash. His arrogance and insensitivity are definitely not endearing traits. When schizophrenia captures his mind your first reaction is to think bad Karma has caught up with him. But as the pages and the years go buy you become deeply saddened by this man's loss. It is gratifying that Princeton and its academic staff stood by Nash, and kindly let him wander about the Math department for almost thirty years. His ex wife is an heroic individual who took care of him even though divorced from him. Another tragedy is Nash's mentally ill son who was granted a PhD from Rutgers and who has been unable to do anything with it in the 13 years since. You are, however, overjoyed at John Nash's mental resurrection in the 1990s. A well written book. Scientists reading this book should note that unlike many science biographies this is not a book heavy with mathematical theorems. It's about a life.
I have one nitpicky complaint. The author spends a lot of time discussing the symptoms and treatment of schizophrenia. Yet when mental illness strikes other people in the book she uses trite, meaningless terms like "nervous breakdown" and "mental collapse". That's like referring to a physical ailment as "the vapors". Won't we ever bury such stupid terms?
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Da ich schon gelesen hatte, dass die deutsche Übersetzung nicht ganz dem Original gleichkommt, las ich das englische Original. Ich habe es nicht bereut. Die Sprache ist niveauvoll aber nicht unverständlich für einen durchschnittlichen Englisch-LK-ler.
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Von Ein Kunde am 27. November 1998
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Interesting book. However, the first word of the title is rather inappropriate. I don't see anything 'Beautiful' about Nash's mind nor his harrowing lifelong experiences. Most of his life was a state of crisis for those who worked with him or loved him. Nash, his family, and friends were, in fact, tragic victims of the power of the human mind when it malfunctions. The book is layed out such that the reader can see how people were able to cope and to grow from such a difficult tragedy. Alicia, his wife/ex-wife is a most fascinating individual. John Nash was a changed man after his recovery, with a much more grounded and rational personality than he ever had when he was at the height of his brilliance. The ending is bittersweet, and rather emoitional; the book certainly gets better the more that one reads into it. It certainly gave me a better understanding of grave mental illness and how that can alter one's intellect and destroy one's potential. What makes it more interesting is that the main characters are still alive and the story is not over yet. I wish Dr. Nash the best in his recovery.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Nasar spins a marvellous story of a true genius, a man for whom outstanding accomplishments were never enough.
Apparently Nash was a man who made breakthroughs simply because they were there to be made. He cared not if the world found them useful, only that others of his ilk found them intellectually impressive. Yet he has indelibly left his mark on his time and on those to follow. But that's not really the point of this book.
Nash also spent the best years of his life battling a horrendous illness that made him virtually unable to work. That's not the point either.
The point is that Nasar has managed to write the kind of biography one rarely sees but the world needs far more of. By placing Nash's work in the context of the man, his family, his friends, his peers, his time and his social environment the reader feels they progressively get to know the man, to feel a sense of connectedness with him.
Yet, the way one feels about Nash is not always positive, for like all of us there are aspects on Nash not to be admired. But the key is that Nasar allows one to feel something. Far to many biographies leave one feeling one understands the work, but not the individual. For me, that is the point - and the value of this book.
For those of a mathematical bent (as I must confess I am) the book is interesting. It must be - it outlines the life of one of the twentieth century's greats. But the real value of the book for me is the placing of the life in its context. For that Nasar should be congratulated.
It would make a worthy addition to the library of anyone with an interest in exploring the subject of what moves us to do what we do.
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Von Ein Kunde am 24. Januar 1999
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Sylvia Nasar did a great deal of research for her biography of John Nash. Unfortunately, she just typed her notes into her word processor and Simon & Schuster published it.
I cannot tell if this is the fault of Ms. Nasar or her (unacknowledged) editor who should have recommended that she mold all of her research into a narrative, instead of just throwing it at the reader.
After listening to talk shows in which the author described John Nash's fascinating life, it was a great disappointment to slog my way through what I expected to be a wonderful biography of a unique genius. I think that one would get more out of reading the New York Times profile of Nash, from which this book was extrapolated, or listening to the author's ad lib recollections than from trudging through this repetitive work.
If you must read a recent biography of a great mathematician, may I recommend Paul Hoffman's "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers." Hoffman's series of anecdotes paints a better description of a man than Nasar's use of thousands of redundant interview quotes.
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