The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

Book rating: 05 Hardback

By (author) Randy Pausch, With Jeffrey Zaslow

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  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Format: Hardback | 206 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 180mm x 25mm | 272g
  • Publication date: 10 April 2008
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1401323251
  • ISBN 13: 9781401323257
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 30,271

Product description

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." --Randy Pausch A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy? When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living. In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

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Author information

Randy Pausch was a Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon, where he was the co-founder of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). He was a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator and a Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellow. He had sabbaticals at Walt Disney Imagineering and Electronic Arts (EA), and consulted with Google on user interface design. Dr. Pausch received his bachelors in Computer Science from Brown University and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. He was the director of the Alice (www.alice.org) software project, and had traveled in zero-gravity. He lived with his wife, Jai, and their three young children in Virginia. Jeff Zaslow wrote the Wall Street Journal column that fueled the initial interest in Randy Pausch's lecture. He is also the co-author of Captain Chesley Sullenberger's The Highest Duty and the author of The Girls from Ames, both bestsellers.

Customer reviews

By TeensReadToo 16 Sep 2010 5

There's nothing more bittersweet than reading a story where you know the ending before you start the first page. Everyone knows that on July 25, 2008, Randy Pausch lost his battle with cancer. But fortunately for those of us who never knew the man, he's left behind his legacy in THE LAST LECTURE. The well-known lecture can be viewed on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo), but with the help of a Wall Street Journal writer, Jeffrey Zaslow, he's taken his famous "last lecture" and written a book on how to live.

If you've watched the actual last lecture (I took the time after reading the book to sit and watch the entire talk), then the book is a perfect companion. If you've not seen the video, you will still be touched by the book. Though the book doesn't quote the lecture verbatim, Mr. Pausch has taken his lecture and expounded with more details and memories.

Having gone to university in Pittsburgh, I am very familiar with Carnegie Mellon University. When I first heard about the book and famous talk upon the death of Mr. Pausch, it was the mention of CMU that first caught my attention. I proceeded to get my hands on the book and read it in one quiet evening.

Mr. Pausch doesn't preach about his cancer, nor philosophize on death. Instead, he tells of his childhood dreams and how others can achieve their dreams. He speaks often of hitting a brick wall. He tells all that if you want something badly enough, then you will find a way around that brick wall. He shares with the reader his rejections by Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, and even the Disney Imagineers. But he fought for what he wanted, and found a way to achieve his dreams.

He fondly thanks his parents for his wonderful childhood. He thanks his tough college mentor Andy van Dam. He tells about one of his students, whose dream was to work on the next Star Wars films. This coming in the early 1990s when no one anticipated there would be an additional three.

I believe all who pick up this book will be touched in some small way. It might not make you a better person for reading it, but I believe it will make you think. He offers simple suggestions for getting more out of life. It may be the simple truth of how to offer a sincere apology. It may be that you should put others first. Whatever it is, read the book with an open mind and be thankful that you are still alive and have the chance to live each day.

*Gold Star Award Winner!