“A Beautiful Mind”; By Sylvia Nasar: A Review

One of the least understood mental illnesses is schizophrenia.  100 years ago, getting schizophrenia was akin to getting inoperable cancer.  There were no treatments other than being shut up in an institute and drastic treatments like insulin shock therapy.

Yet somehow American mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. came back from the brink to win the Nobel Prize in Economics.  Sylvia Nasar presents a pretty exhaustive biography of Nash’s remarkable life in her bestselling biography A Beautiful Mind (Simon & Schuster; 1994.)

I’ve never seen the popular movie of the same name based on this book, but my Mom tells me that it was a great film.  Maybe one day I’ll get around to seeing it.

This book is a hard slog in places, especially where it details mathematical theories and game theories.  But I recommend it.  Although not the main focus of the book, it does chronicle the remarkable love story of Nash and his wife Alicia, who divorced him and yet took care of him even after the divorce.

Nash’s recovery was spontaneous and the reader is left to draw his or her own conclusions as to just what contributed to Nash’s recovery.  Nash is still alive and winning awards at the venerable age of 84.

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