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Sylvia Nasar

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Sylvia Nasar
Sylvia Nasar - Flickr - Knight Foundation.jpg
Nasar in 2005
Born (1947-08-17) 17 August 1947 (age 72)
Rosenheim, Allied-occupied Germany
Professor of Journalism

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Sylvia Nasar (born 17 August 1947) is an Uzbek German-born American journalist, best known for her biography of John Forbes Nash Jr., A Beautiful Mind . She received the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography.


Early life and history

Nasar was born in Rosenheim, Germany, to a Bavarian mother and an Uzbek father, Rusi Nasar, who later joined the CIA as an intelligence officer. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1951, then moved to Ankara, Turkey, in 1960. She graduated with a BA in Literature from Antioch College in 1970 and earned a Master's degree in Economics at New York University in 1976. For 4 years, she did research with Nobel Laureate Wassily Leontief. She joined Fortune magazine as a staff writer in 1983, became a columnist for U.S. News & World Report in 1990, and was an economic correspondent for the New York Times from 1991 to 1999. She was the first John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Business Journalism at Columbia University.

In March 2013, Nasar filed a lawsuit accusing the university of misdirecting $4.5 million in funds over the last decade from the same Knight endowment which pays her salary. The New York Times reported, "In her suit, Ms. Nasar said that after she complained about the misspent funds, [a Columbia University official] "intimidated and harassed" her by telling her that the Knight Foundation "was dissatisfied with her performance as Knight chair because Knight objected to her work on books." [1]

She has three adult children, Clara, Lily and Jack, and lives in Tarrytown, New York. Her husband is Fordham University economist Darryl McLeod. [2]

A Beautiful Mind

In 1998, Nasar published A Beautiful Mind , a biography of Nobel Prize-winning economist and mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. The book describes many aspects of Nash's life, examines his personality and motivations, and deals with the stresses placed on his personal and professional relationships by severe mental illness. However, in an interview with Paula Todd of Studio 2, Nash stated he never had CIA hallucinations, and that he only experience hearing voices in his 40s, not at college in his 20s as depicted in the movie. [3] The book won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. [4]

Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

Nasar's second book, Grand Pursuit, was published in 2011. It is a historical narrative which sets forth Nasar's view that economics rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material circumstances in its own hands rather than in Fate. [5] It won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Science and technology. [6]

"Manifold Destiny"

On 28 August 2006 The New Yorker published Nasar's article "Manifold Destiny", which contained the only interview with Grigori Perelman, who solved the Poincaré conjecture and declined the 2006 Fields Medal. The article examined Fields Medalist Shing-Tung Yau's response to Perelman's proof. Some mathematicians wrote letters in defense of Yau over Nasar's portrayal, and Yau threatened to file a lawsuit, but no suit was filed. [7]

Awards and honors


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  1. HAUGHNEY, CHRISTINE (19 March 2013). "Journalism Professor Sues Columbia, Claiming Misuse of Endowment Funds". The New York Times . Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  2. Nasar, Sylvia (1998). A Beautiful Mind. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. p. 442. ISBN   9781451628425.
  3. "A Beautiful Mind (review)". Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Prizes for Science Books previous winners and shortlists, The Royal Society website Archived February 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Sylvia Nasar » Grand Pursuit". Retrieved 2017-03-22.
  6. "Book Prizes – Los Angeles Times Festival of Books» 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Winners & Finalists". Archived from the original on 2016-04-16. Retrieved 2017-03-22.
  7. "The Poincaré Clash". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-03-22.