Excerpt from A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Beautiful Mind

The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash

By Sylvia Nasar

A Beautiful Mind
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 1998,
    464 pages.
    Paperback: Dec 2001,
    464 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


It is highly unlikely, however, that many people outside this intellectual Olympus would have become privy to these developments, dramatic as they appeared to Princeton insiders, if not for another scene, which also took place on these grounds at the end of the first week of October 1994.

A mathematics seminar was just breaking up. Nash, who now regularly attended such gatherings and sometimes even asked a question or offered some conjecture, was about to duck out. Harold Kuhn, a mathematics professor at the university and Nash's closest friend, caught up with him at the door. Kuhn had telephoned Nash at home earlier that day and suggested that the two of them might go for lunch after the talk. The day was so mild, the outdoors so inviting, the Institute woods so brilliant, that the two men wound up sitting on a bench opposite the mathematics building, at the edge of a vast expanse of lawn, in front of a graceful little Japanese fountain.

Kuhn and Nash had known each other for nearly fifty years. They had both been graduate students at Princeton in the late 1940s, shared the same professors, known the same people, traveled in the same elite mathematical circles. They had not been friends as students, but Kuhn, who spent most of his career in Princeton, had never entirely lost touch with Nash and had, as Nash became more accessible, managed to establish fairly regular contact with him. Kuhn is a shrewd, vigorous, sophisticated man who is not burdened with "the mathematical personality." Not a typical academic, passionate about the arts and liberal political causes, Kuhn is as interested in other people's lives as Nash is remote from them. They were an odd couple, connected not by temperament or experience but by a large fund of common memories and associations.

Kuhn, who had carefully rehearsed what he was going to say, got to the point quickly. "I have something to tell you, John," he began. Nash, as usual, refused to look Kuhn in the face at first, staring instead into the middle distance. Kuhn went on. Nash was to expect an important telephone call at home the following morning, probably around six o'clock. The call would come from Stockholm. It would be made by the Secretary General of the Swedish Academy of Sciences. Kuhn's voice suddenly became hoarse with emotion Nash now turned his head, concentrating on every word. "He's going to tell you, John," Kuhn concluded, "that you have won a Nobel Prize."

This is the story of John Forbes Nash, Jr. It is a story about the mystery of the human mind, in three acts: genius, madness, reawakening.

Copyright © 1998 by Sylvia Nasar.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...
  • Book Jacket: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    I feel like Gabrielle Zevin wrote this wonderful book, about a lonely New England bookstore owner ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.