An inch-by-inch, pin-you-to-the-sofa reconstruction of the author's long friendship with Michael Lauder, who made headlines first as Yale Law School graduate destigmatising schizophrenia, then for stabbing his pregnant girlfriend to death, after which he was sent to a maximum security psychiatric hospital.

Drawing from clips, court and police records, legal and medical studies, interviews, diaries, Lauder's feverish writings, Rosen examines the porous line between brilliance and insanity, the complicated policy questions posed by deinstitutionalisation and the ethical obligations of a community.

'' The Best Minds '' is a thoughtfully constructed, deeply sourced indictment of a society that prioritizes profit, quick fixes and happy endings over the long slog of care.

EXCERPT : I found the violent energy of Michael's house thrilling. When my sister and I played Monopoly, she did buy Park Place if I already owned Boardwalk.

I left her the yellow properties because she liked them. In the Lauder house, the brothers wrote their names on items in the fridge, and someone was always shouting, '' That better be there when I come back! '' or '' Who drank my Dr. Pepper?''

Michael was at the bottom of the food chain but could still threaten to piss in the orange juice to teach others a lesson.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times Books Staff.


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