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’s papers The resulting book is a highly entertaining account that is difficult to put down” Journal of Mathematical Psychology “A full and intimate biography of ‘the man who consciously and deliberately set mankind moving along the road that led us into the Age of Computers’” Freeman Dyson Princeton NJ “It is good to have a biography of one of the most important mathematicians of the twentieth century even if it is a biography that focuses much on the man than on the mathematics” Fernando Gouvêa Mathematical Association of America “Macrae has written a valuable biography of this remarkable genius of our century without the opacity of technical mathematical dimensions that are part of the hero’s intellectual contributions to humanity Interesting informative illuminating and insightful” Choice Review “Macrae paints a highly readable humanizing portrait of a man whose legacy still influences and shapes modern science and knowledge” Resonance Journal of Science Education “In this affectionate humanizing biography former Economist editor Macrae limns a prescient pragmatist who actively fought against fasci. Good biography on a mathematical genius embodying world history in the first half of the 20th century From a privileged upbringing in an intellectual Jewish family in Budapest von Neumann studied simultaneously in Berlin and Zurich In the late 1920s he fled Europe for the US anticipating the worst from the aspiring Nazis He contributed to revolutionize physics and nuclear research and played an invaluable part in the development of modern computers He also made ground breaking research in game theory and advised the economics profession to invent a new type of math better suited its particular characteristics

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John Von Neumann The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered the Modern Computer Game Theory Nuclear Deterrence and Much More

John von Neumann was a Jewish refugee from Hungary considered a “genius” like fellow Hungarians Leo Szilard Eugene Wigner and Edward Teller who played key roles developing the A bomb at Los Alamos during World War II As a mathematician at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study where Einstein was also a professor von Neumann was a leader in the development of early computers Later he developed the new field of game theory in economics and became a top nuclear arms policy adviser to the Truman and Eisenhower administrations “I always thought von Neumann’s brain indicated that he belonged to a new species an evolution beyond man Macrae shows us in a lively way how this brain was nurtured and then left its great imprint on the world” Hans A Bethe Cornell University “The book makes for utterly captivating reading Von Neumann was of course one of this century’s geniuses and it is surprising that we have had to wait so long for a fully fleshed and sympathetic biography of the man It’s no small task to render a genius like von Neumann in ordinary language yet Macrae manages the trick providing than a glimpse of what von Neuman. 2008 05 31 Ughthe reviews of this one were rough but I tried to ignore them First off the book has a weird appearance Let s not count that against it but the odd shape yielded a much longer read than the 400 pages suggest Further I d have liked to have seen good ol comforting Computer Modern or CM Super used in the typesetting of the American Mathematical Society the irritatingly unlisted typeface was rather tiring on the glazzies But I digressMacrae s editor noticably dropped the ball here to a point that s distracting An odd dozen uotes are duplicated sometimes several times throughout each time with the clear intent to unveil something new Macrae offers the bewildering conjecture that Fermi might have advanced an Italian bomb effortwhat a change that would have been The Duce s industrial base in 1939 had a technological ceiling at about the marble tableepaulette level I m not often moved to an audible moron while reading but there you go some ten pages later Macrae points out that the British lacked the physical plant for isotope separation is the man really that blissfully unaware of relative European industrial power following the Industrial Revolution Jesus On page 62 nine tenths is used which context on page 63 makes plain to have intended one tenth c mon this is a fucking American Mathematical publication about a mathematician written by a mathematician get your fractions correctThere s a very uneven nature to the chapters the first three are florid and lively the 11th regarding economic contributions fairly excellent the remainder largely staid We learn on the final pages that these initial chapters were handed down largely unchanged from Stephen White the project s initiator and that Macrae s professional focus included economics Argh This seems clearly an example of a noble project placed in the wrong hands Macrae s Nippophilic ejaculations become uninteresting diversion after the first few dozen instances turning eventually bewildering and finally pathetic Johnny was among the greatest minds of the last century and deserved betterMacrae makes it clear in his Foreward that this is a labor of love actually a commissioned hagiography by the Sloan Foundation we learn later Von Neumann s was a hard life to capture in still Oppenheimer biographies advance unceasingly even after Kay and Bird settled that mysterious old wizard and a stone can t be thrown at Barnes and Noble without hitting some tiring hundredth investigation of Einstein yet this is only the third minor biography of Von Neumann He s a difficult target for the biographer especially the modern one But he s my favorite and the few new anecdotes I could wring out of this stillborn effort spare it the Ninth Circle of single starhood

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N accomplished intellectually without expecting the reader to have a PhD in mathematics Beyond that he captures von Neumann’s ualities of temperament mind and personality including his effortless wit and humor And Macrae frames and accounts for von Neumann’s politics in ways that even critics of them among whom I include myself will find provocative and illuminating” Daniel J Kevles California Institute of Technology “The first full scale biography of this polymath who was born Jewish in Hungary in 1903 and died Roman Catholic in the United States at the age of 53 And Mr Macrae has some great stories to tell Mr Macrae’s biography has rescued a lot of good science gossip from probable extinction and has introduced many of us to the life story of a man we ought to know better” Ed Regis The New York Times “A nice and fascinating picture of a genius who was active in so many domains” Zentralblatt MATH “Biographer Macrae takes a ‘viewspaperman’ approach which stresses the context and personalities associated with von Neumann’s remarkable life rather than attempting to give a detailed scholarly analysis of von Neumann. Not a bad biography Certainly not rife with technical detail about Von Neumann s work but then it isn t meant to beI do think that the writer excited to have similar political views to those of a true genius gets a little too excited about defending Von Neumann from detractors most of which are strawmen anyway


10 thoughts on “John Von Neumann The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered the Modern Computer Game Theory Nuclear Deterrence and Much More

  1. says:

    2008 05 31 Ughthe reviews of this one were rough but I tried to ignore them First off the book has a weird appearance Let's not count that against it but the odd shape yielded a much longer read than the 400 pages suggest

  2. says:

    John von Neumann is a subject deserving a great biography one of the most important minds of the 20th century This isn't that biography sadlyNorman Macrae was a well respected economist and editor at the Economist in London and should have been in the position to write something excellent Instead this reads like a phone it in work of lazy scholarship relying on the superlatives associated with the subject rather than actually doing the wo

  3. says:

    John von Neumann was one of the preeminent scientists and thinkers of the second uarter of the twentieth century This is nearly the only full length biography of him; it doesn't uite do him justice but it's the best availableThe book's style is breezy and digressive; the author intrudes regularly The book was

  4. says:

    Interesting biography of a genius but an irritating author who keeps intruding for self congratulating comments because his political ideas coincide of those of Neumann

  5. says:

    An interesting portrait of one of the geniuses of the 20th century important contributor to Allied success in WWII and to the emergin

  6. says:

    Not a bad biography Certainly not rife with technical detail about Von Neumann's work but then it isn't meant to beI do think that the writer excited to have similar political views to those of a true genius gets a little too excited about defending Von Neumann from detractors – most of which are strawmen anyway

  7. says:

    This is an academic biography So the prose is a bit plodding and stiff; and the seuence of life events reads like a timeline

  8. says:

    Good biography on a mathematical genius embodying world history in the first half of the 20th century From a privileged upbringing in an intellectual Jewish family in Budapest von Neumann studied simultaneously in Berlin and Zurich In the late 1920s he fled Europe for the US anticipating the worst from the aspiring Nazis He contrib

  9. says:

    A well structured largely captivating biography of one of the most intelligent people to have ever lived The author’s political comments were occasionally irritating even when they were sentiments I shared but apart from that the b

  10. says:

    One of the worst biographies I have ever read; the Author's presence feels too big sidelining the main character of the story it's a biography It's a pity because the character is fascinating and a deeper and refined discus