Pursuit of Genius: Flexner, Einstein, and the Early Faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study

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Overview

"The Institute for Advanced Study occupies a unique position among institutions of higher learning. An account of its early years is long overdue, so the appearance of the present volume, during the 75th anniversary of the Institute's founding, is most welcome. Batterson has mined the Institute's archives to provide a detailed and unvarnished account of the backstage conflicts and intrigue that attended the Institute's growth and determined its future. Those unfamiliar with the Institute will learn how one man's vision shaped a couple's philanthropy and created a haven for scholars in the midst of the Great Depression. Equally, those who have had the privilege of Institute membership will enhance their appreciation of the intellectual leaders who made their own Institute experiences possible." —-John W. Dawson, Jr., author of Logical Dilemmas: The Life and Work of Kurt Gödel

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" ""Batterson's detailed rendition of Abraham Flexner's negotiations with a number of the most eminent mathematicians of the 1930s will delight anyone who has ever served on a faculty search committee. Despite some reversals, Flexner successfully recruited Albert Einstein, Oswald Veblen, Hermann Weyl and John von Neumann, all Europeans, and James W. Alexander and Marston Morse, both Americans. Batterson includes descriptions of each man's achievements and importance to the field of mathematics, as well as the social context in which recruitment activities took place, including rising anti- Semitism in Germany, and anti-Semitism in the United States, including Princeton."" -Sarah Boslaugh, MAA Reviews, October 2006

“The book is based primarily on a meticulous study of the institute’s documentary records … Batterson tells a fascinating story …” -John Stachel, NATURE, January 2007

""Pursuit of Genius is a night-table book, an enjoyable read . . . The book is a story, not a history . . . Many will enjoy reading the connections between the Institute and mathematicians, such as George Birkhoff, Einstein, Kurt Godel, Felix Klein, John von Neumann and Hermann Weyl."" -Donald Cook, Mathematiacl Reviews, May 2007

""This is the best book that has yet been written about the Institute … The history of the first nine years is unexpectedly melodramatic, full of quarrels and misunderstandings, power struggles and deceptions."" -Freeman Dyson, IAS, June 2007

""This interesting book ... shows the life and scientific activities and contributions of intellectual leaders from the institute as well as political, economic, and personal situations, conflicts, and intrigues that influenced and determined the future of the institute ... The book can be recommended to anyone who is interested in mathematics and its history."" -EMS, November 2007

Institute for Advanced Study occupies a unique position among institutions of higher learning. An account of its early years is long overdue, so the appearance of the present volume, during the 75th anniversary of the Institute's rounding, is most welcome. Batterson has mined the Institute's archives lo provide a detailed and unvarnished account of the backstage conflicts and intrigue that attended the Institute's growth and determined its future. Those unfamiliar with the Institute will learn how one man's vision shaped a couple's philanthropy and created a haven for scholars in the midst of the Great Depression. Equally, those who have had the privilege of lnstitute membership will enhance their appreciation of the intellectual leaders who made their own Institute experiences possible."" -L'Enseignement Mathématique, October 2006"

Nature
The book is based primarily on a meticulous study of the institute's documentary records . . . Batterson tells a fascinating story . . .
MAA Reviews
Batterson's detailed rendition of Abraham Flexner's negotiations with a number of the most eminent mathematicians of the 1930s will delight anyone who has ever served on a faculty search committee. Despite some reversals, Flexner successfully recruited Albert Einstein, Oswald Veblen, Hermann Weyl and John von Neumann, all Europeans, and James W. Alexander and Marston Morse, both Americans. Batterson includes descriptions of each man's achievements and importance to the field of mathematics, as well as the social context in which recruitment activities took place, including rising anti- Semitism in Germany, and anti-Semitism in the United States, including Princeton.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568812595
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 8/15/2006
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Batterson earned his BA from the William and Mary in 1971. In 1972 he was awarded an MA from Northwestern University where he also earned his PhD in 1976. He is the author of Stephen Smale: The Mathematician who Broke the Dimension Barrier.
He is currently an Associate Professor for the Department of Mathematics at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.
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Table of Contents

1 Abraham Flexner, Daniel Coit Gilman, and the Johns Hopkins template 1
2 The Rockefeller models 15
3 Funding dreams 31
4 Deciding where to start 55
5 The first hires 81
6 Flexner and Veblen build the school of mathematics 119
7 Launching the other schools 159
8 Competing for resources 189
9 Mounting a coup 215
10 Fast forward 239
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