Where I got the book: audiobook downloaded from Audible.
I haven't had an Audible subscription for ages but I knew there were some books on there I had...moreWhere I got the book: audiobook downloaded from Audible.
I haven't had an Audible subscription for ages but I knew there were some books on there I hadn't listened to. I was surprised to find this one among them. Why, I wondered, had I picked a book about a mathematician I'd personally never heard of? By the time my youngest was in freshman year at high school I could no longer follow what she was doing in math. Actually, that was probably true in 8th grade. Ok, 7th grade. You get the picture? I'm not a mathematician.
Well, I love surprises. I was spellbound by the story of John Nash, who as a young man emerged as one of the most talented mathematicians of his generation. The discussion of how mathematics, especially game theory, was used during the Cold War to plan strategies was beyond fascinating even though I didn't understand it 100%. And then as Nash drew closer to middle age, at the time when he should have been riding the top of the wave, his eccentricity degenerated into outright schizophrenia and cost him his job, his marriage and his rational mind.
And THEN--I feel like one of those commercials, "Wait! There's more!"--after years spent in asylums he somehow managed to emerge from insanity and THEN, something like 40 years after he'd done the work, he was awarded a Nobel Prize for his contribution to game theory. (view spoiler)[By the end of the book he is living in a fragile balance with his ex-wife, still seeing his mathematical friends and caring for a son with schizophrenia. And, most striking of all, he is a much nicer person after his harrowing experience with insanity than he was as an arrogant wunderkind. (hide spoiler)] Nasar provides a very complete, warts-and-all picture of a human thinking machine.
This was the abridged version, which was a pity. One day I'll seek out the full version and read it, or listen to it, again. The narrator, by the way, one Edward Hermann, was one of the best I've heard recently; an unremarkable voice in a way but a reading that was as smooth as silk with absolutely NO annoying mannerisms of speech.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Where I got the book: I went to see Miriam Margolyes (who is a co-author) perform the one-woman stage play of the same name at the Chicago Shakespeare...moreWhere I got the book: I went to see Miriam Margolyes (who is a co-author) perform the one-woman stage play of the same name at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Afterwards she flogged the book for $20 and did a signing. You may know by now that I'm a sucker for a signed book.
The middle of this slim volume is taken up by the script of the stage play. Topping and tailing it are two, well, I suppose you'd call them essays, one talking about Dickens and women generally, and the other covering some material left out of the play. Copious quotes from Dickens' work take up, I would estimate, 40% of the book.
As a memento of watching the very excellent Margolyes perform, this has some value to me. She's a superb character actor, and indeed it was quite a shock to hear her talking in her normal (Oxbridge-educated-actress) voice. As a book about Dickens' attitude toward women, I'm sure there are better tomes out there. The material's not bad but not much attention has been given to arrangement, and a little more editing would have helped. I understand there's an audio CD with Margolyes reading; if you're looking for entertainment, read that instead. If you're looking for a scholarly work, keep looking (and if anyone knows of a really good book on the subject, I'd love to know because in itself it's a fascinating study.)(less)