The Best Minds
Select a format:
'This searching memoir retraces their relationship, meditating on how separate fates intertwine and diverge. Right when Michael’s life seems to be improving, he murders his fiancée. For the author, the questions about his friend deepen, while the answers recede.' – Richard J. McNally, WSJ The 10 Best Books of 2023
'Extraordinary... Magisterial... A remarkable meditation on friendship, success, madness and violence that refuses to oversimplify' Guardian (Book of the Day)
'The darkest of literary triumphs, and the most gripping of unbearable reads' Telegraph (5 stars)
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.