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I missed that Benjamin Labatut (When We Cease to Understand the World, ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘) came out with a new novel last fall, The Maniac. The book centers on John von Neumann and the fuzzy, unstable, tech-centric world (atomics, AI) he and his colleagues created.

Discussion  3 comments

Eric Roling

Interesting. His previous book (When We Cease To Understand the World) was compellingly written, but I was tremendously troubled by the fact that the stories were progressively fictionalized. This fictionalization wasn't really disclosed and included significant story points and prurient topics. Do we know if The Maniac will be similarly fictionalized, or will it be less fantastical? Goodreads has it classified as fiction and historical fiction.

I appreciate the concept of telling a historical story in a fictional manner by inventing conversations and events that weren't documented but likely occurred. Labatut went way beyond that point, and it just didn't sit right with me.

Steve Bryant

Be prepared for a truly grim and somewhat depressing first chapter. After that it's sparkly.

Bo Brock

It's a very good book โ€” reminded me of The World as I Found It by Bruce Duffy, which absolutely hit me square between the eyes. John von Neumann was obviously among the very smartest humans who ever lived, but as a friend once quipped: "High IQ and a buck fifty will get you a Diet Coke." Books like these provide a context for such extreme intelligence to work against, and it's richly rewarding to wade through.

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