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The Best Minds : A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions - Jonathan Rosen

The Best Minds

A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions

By: Jonathan Rosen

Paperback | 13 February 2024 | Edition Number 1

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A novelist's gripping investigation of the forces that led his childhood best friend from academic stardom to the psychiatric hospital where he has lived since killing the woman he loved

When the Rosens moved to New Rochelle, New York in 1973, Jonathan Rosen and Michael Laudor became inseparable. Both children of professors, the boys were best friends and fierce rivals who soon followed each other to Yale University.

Michael blazed through Yale in three years, graduating summa cum laude and landing a top-flight consulting job. Then one day, Jonathan received a devastating call- Michael had suffered a psychotic break and was in the locked ward of a psychiatric hospital.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Michael was still in hospital when he learned he'd been accepted to Yale Law School, and living in a halfway house when he decided, against all odds, to enroll. Still battling delusions, he managed to graduate, and after his triumphant story was featured in The New York Times, sold a memoir for a vast sum. Ron Howard bought film rights, completing the dream for Michael and his tirelessly supportive girlfriend Carrie, and Brad Pitt was set to star. But then Michael, in the grip of psychosis, committed a horrific act that made him a front-page story of an entirely different sort.

The Best Minds is Jonathan Rosen's powerful account of an American tragedy, set in the final decades of the American century, an era that coincided with the emptying out of state mental hospitals. It is a story about the bonds of friendship, the price of delusion and the mystery of identity. Tender, funny, and harrowing by turns, The Best Minds is both a beautifully rendered coming of age story and an indictment of the profound neglect of mental illness in our society.

About the Author

Jonathan Rosen is the author of two novels- Eve's Apple and Joy Comes in the Morning, and two non-fiction books- The Talmud and the Internet and The Life of the Skies. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and numerous anthologies. He lives with his family in New York City.
Industry Reviews
'Extraordinary... A remarkable meditation on friendship, success, madness and violence that refuses to oversimplify ... A magisterial work, as much a sociological study of late 20th-century America as it is a book about madness. Despite weighing in at more than 500 pages, the narrative scarcely drags thanks to Rosen's style, which is easygoing, but spiced with moments of pin-sharp brilliance.' -- David Shariatmadari * Guardian (Book of the Day) *

Rosen is a novelist, and his literary imagination shapes the book like a novel... This artful, reflective and even entertaining book - one of the best of this or any year - is his powerful effort to take responsibility for changing minds, to persuade us of the danger of allowing compassion to obscure truth. The Best Minds manages to honour both -- Elaine Showalter * TLS *

The darkest of literary triumphs, and the most gripping of unbearable reads. Five stars -- Simon Ings * Telegraph *

An act of tremendous compassion and a literary triumph... A brave and nuanced book * New York Times *

Extraordinary... It's just so superbly written. I highly recommend it -- Nihal Arthanayake * Radio 5 Live *

Almost every page is filled with poignant observations, subtle ironies and a commentary pregnant with the unbearable weight of future knowledge... This is a rich and deeply thoughtful book about the nature of madness and the way that western society deals with it -- Andrew Anthony * Observer *

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