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Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, A: Reviewed

Author:Janna Levin
Reading Level (Conceptual):For grown-ups
Reading Level (Vocabulary):For grown-ups
Genre:Fiction, biography
Year of publication:2006

What must it be like to be so intelligent that you can't trust anyone enough to believe him or her? So confident that you are right and that everyone else is wrong that you ignore the woman who loves you when she tells you that you must eat (and assures you that the food is really, truly not poisoned)? What must it be like to know that you are moral, that you have saved civilization, but to be convicted of immorality and forced to deny your true self?

Janna Levin (our madman who is not at all mad) worms us inside the minds of Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing and forces us to look out into the world through their eyes. When we hear Gödel's story, we may be tempted to think that paranoid insanity is part of terrific genius. But then what are we to think of Alan Turing (yes, he clearly was on the autistic spectrum, but he was not crazy and not harmful to himself or to others), who only wanted to solve very hard problems and love the occasional man and was forced to ingest hormones that destroyed his body and his self-respect?

A very sad, but important book. A reminder that we must, must, must help our gifted children find communities in which brilliant minds are nurtured and supported and cherished for their idiosyncrasies.

Other reviews: Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, A
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