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This book was an amazing insight into the life of John Nash. I had already seen the movie and could not wait to read about one of my heroes (I'm bipolar myself. nb: John Nash shows more signs of being bipolar than schizophrenic and this is backed by a reputable Australian psychiatrist. Many people mix them up). But I was deeply disappointed to find out he was such an arrogant and nasty person which wasn't betrayed in the movie (bipolar does not cause one to treat others poorly; this is a personality flaw he had). This led me to wonder why the book was titled 'A Beautiful Mind'. Perhaps it was meant for his wife, Alicia, who stuck by him in tough times. His mind was no doubt amazing as he was a genius, but I don't care if you're the King of England, if you treat others poorly you do not have a beautiful mind.
Endnotes to Distraction
The New York Times book review says A Beautiful Mind "reads like a fine novel." Except, a fine novel doesn't have endnotes plaguing the entire text. Sylvia Nasar must be German. If not at the end of every sentence, at least at the end of every line of thought, there lies an endnote. (The Germans are famous for documenting everything to distraction; this is not a stereotype.) The book is ridiculously over-documented. (For example, Chapter 1 alone, which is only 15 pages long, has 63 endnotes!) This is terribly distracting for me as the reader, especially considering that hardly any of the notes actually elucidates anything; just documents, documents, documents, as if it were a college thesis. The book (as a "novel" -- think Dana's "Two Years Before The Mast") would be a much smoother read -- and in no way diminished -- if the endnotes were left out altogether. Publisher please consider. Perhaps there could be a version published SANS ENDNOTES for non-German readers.
A Beautiful Mind
Although I was only 11 years old when I read this book, I found many parts of it fascinating. I have interest in mental disorders, and this book showed insight and explanation for one of the more famous cases of schizophrenia in history. I would NOT recommend this book to anyone under the age of sixteen unless they are intelligent enough to appreciate the heavy material. I had to skim through several sections of this book, as it was very long and detailed, so only good readers and people with interest in math or mental disorders under sixteen would enjoy this book. However, it was an enlightening read that would likely be enjoyed by all adults. I definitely recommend this to any adult looking for a thoughtful book to read.
I was inspired to read this aptly titled biography of a brilliant mathematician after seeing Ron Howard's film. This type of subject matter is often avoided by Hollywood filmmakers, so hats off to Howard for tackling a project many filmmakers would have rejected.
This fairly big book goes far beyond the film in terms of detail. Sylvia Nasar covers the life of Nash from childhood through a devastating illness to a certain functional recovery, along with his loves, successes, failures, and imperfections. Nasar is a biographer and journalist, not a mathematician, and thus cannot be expected to delve deep into the mathematical intricacies of Nash's professional life, but she includes enough well-footnoted detail to enable the layperson or beginning mathematics student to appreciate his importance to the fields of mathematics and economics and provides insight into how Nash's wife created an environment within which Nash's talents could be nurtured rather than lost.
I enjoyed the book, as did many of my more scientifically- and technically-inclined friends.