Review: The Last Lecture

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The Last Lecture
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not at all what I was expecting. I personally found the author to be arrogant to the point of clouding the message. Every “lesson” chapter was an anecdote about himself imparting a pearl of wisdom to somebody else. He spends very little time (although some, to be fair) paying tribute to the people who influenced him. What I thought, honestly, as a fellow IT professional, was “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t go into academia, because I could have turned out like this guy.” That is, a pompous, quirky, elitist, hyper-intelligent, no-nonsense, efficiency-obsessed, playful, socialite jerk. Most of his advice is perfectly sound, so barring comment on notions I’ve already heard elsewhere, here are the two most prescient moments I experienced in his book:

(1) On communitarianism: “If you deeply believe in your right to a jury trial, don’t try to get out of jury duty.”
(2) On acceptance: “You have to accept the whole me. If you like the part of me that didn’t get angry [at your wrecking the car], then you have to accept the frugal part of me that would find it imprudent to get it fixed.”

The ending of the book touched me far more than the better part of its bulk, in that it dealt more with his personal story and his resolution with his family and confronting death. I am sure he didn’t intend for this to be a book “about dying” by “a dying man” since there are doubtless plenty of those, but that section outshone the rest.

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Victor A. Davis has always loved reading and writing short stories. He is an avid hiker and even when away from the world of laptops and wifi, keeps a pocket paperback and a handwritten journal to keep him company on trail. He is the author of two short story collections, Grains of Sand and The Gingerbread Collection. Join his Mailing List for special announcements about upcoming works.