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A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994 Study Guide & Plot Summary

Sylvia Nasar
This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Beautiful Mind.
This section contains 517 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994 Study Guide

A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994 Summary & Study Guide Description

A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994 Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994 by Sylvia Nasar.

Plot Summary

A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar is the story of John Forbes Nash, Jr., the brilliant mathematician who was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 1994. The sad life of this mathematical genius was tainted with episodes of paranoid schizophrenia which basically interrupted a brilliant career as is indicated in the opening pages where he is hospitalized and telling a Harvard Professor visitor how he is receiving signals from outer space. According to Nash, the "aliens" sending the signals are trying to recruit Nash to save the world.

Nash was born in Bluefield, West Virginia to Virginia and John, Sr. The senior Nash worked for Appalachian Power and Virginia was a teacher until her marriage. Daughter Martha had a normal childhood but their son John was a loner. He preferred to stay alone and read or perform experiments rather than take part in sports on interact socially and he was like this most of his life. He wasn't an outstanding student as a youngster. His teachers complained that he wouldn't make the effort.

While attending Bluefield College while still in high school, he decided to be an electrical engineer as his father was. He received a Westinghouse Scholarship and attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology. By his second year there, he had switched to being a math major and was recognized as a genius in mathematics. He went on to graduate school at Princeton University. In the summers, he worked at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, a consulting position he would keep for four years until he was arrested for indecent exposure.

Nash was interested in games and wrote his thesis developing the Nash equilibrium. He was one of the developers of game theory and would be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1994 for his work in this area.

Everyone recognized Nash's genius, but they considered him strange and socially inept. He would constantly belittle people and play childish pranks which is why he was not well liked, even if he was respected for his genius.

Nash secured a position teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He had an affair with Eleanor Stier and fathered his first son, John David Stier, but refused to marry Eleanor. He eventually married Alicia Larde and had his second son, John Charles Martin. But by this time, his mental health had deteriorated and he was hospitalized, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, the first of several hospitalizations.

Nash was never able to teach again. In the following years he spent much of the time roaming the halls of Princeton writing on blackboards. His friends in the field of mathematics supported him as much as they could offering short-term research work when he was well enough to work. In the 1980s, he began to recover and was lucid enough to discuss mathematics. By this time, his son John Charles was hospitalized with schizophrenia.

The reader will find this book interesting, watching the manifestation of the illness in Nash and how he battled with the illness. The book, which is a little technical in places, will hold the reader's interest.

Read more from the Study Guide

This section contains 517 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994 Study Guide
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A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994 from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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