Book Review: The Last Lecture

Title: The Last Lecture

Author: Prof. Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

If you have never heard of Prof. Randy Pausch a good place to start is here. He died of pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008 after battling the disease for over a year and a half.

This book is based mostly on his lecture at CMU (where he was a Prof.) and was written along with Jeffrey Zaslow of the WSJ. The book follows the lecture for the most part except for some additional details. However, despite their similarities, their impact is very different. The talk is engaging and gives you a good feel for Prof. Randy Pausch himself – his love for his teaching, his passion and commitment despite his deteriorating health, his excellent public speaking skills, his energy and overall positive attitude among other things. The book on the other hand gives you the opportunity to empathize with the author, soak in the emotions and reflect on life in general. Here is a small excerpt from the latter part of the book where the author puts things in perspective.

There are so many things Jai and I are discussing as we come to terms with what life will be after I’m gone. “Lucky” is a strange word to use to describe my situation, but a part of me does feel fortunate that I didn’t get hit by the proverbial bus. Cancer has given me the time to have these vital conversations with Jai that wouldn’t be possible if my fate were a heart attack or a car accident.

The fact that the book is written by a person (has a family with three small kids) who is terminally ill makes the book that much more poignant and moving. In other words, it is the painful real life context of the book that makes it an interesting read. Those who have been faced with a personal tragedy or trauma of any sort will find this book particularly engaging.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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