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Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  468 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews

James Bach's smart and empowering guide to self-education, which shows how leading a life in pursuit of passion can lead to fulfillment and success.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Scribner (first published June 25th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,402)
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Jul 26, 2009 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
The author dropped out of school with an 8th grade education and in his early 20's became a software tester at Apple Computers - a position usually reserved for college graduates. James Marcus Bach is the son of Richard Bach, who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull. One of the things the author shared during a talk he gave to a group of school children:
School is temporary. Education is not. If you want to prosper in life: find something that fascinates you and jump all over it. Don't wait for som
Feb 12, 2012 Poiema rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teacher-books

"A buccaneer scholar is anyone whose love of learning is not muzzled, yoked, or shackled by any institution or authority; whose mind is driven to wander and find its own voice and place in the world."

This is a deliciously dangerous book: delicious because it taps into the refreshing fountain of intellectual freedom and dangerous because it dares me to cut the moorings of the traditional educational system and launch out into uncharted waters.

Have you ever felt flawed because you could not corra
A. T. Adlen
Jul 08, 2011 A. T. Adlen rated it it was amazing
Taking Back Control

Self-education in this economy is necessary for success, but self-education is most often discouraged within the education system. In my own self-education, I came across this book and many others that are helping steer me in the right direction. One could say the only thing I really needed to learn in school was how to read, how to write, and how to check out a library book. Everything else was superfluous.

This however, is a list of invaluable information I gleaned just from
Jun 27, 2010 Hava rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my family, especially my brothers
Although I categorized this book as a "self-help book," I wouldn't consider it to be one in the typical sense. Rather, James Bach talks about how to walk your own path - don't be willing to engage in group think or the herd mentality.

It's a short book - it took me about two hours to read, and although I skimmed in the beginning, thinking that it wasn't really a book that I'd enjoy and therefore I'd put it down soon, I ended up finishing it one sitting because I was intrigued by the story. Here
Nov 17, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading the Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success by James Bach. What education junkie wouldn't be tempted by a title like that? James Bach is a high school drop out who at 20, was the youngest manager ever at Apple computers. The story of his self education is inspiring. He admits that he thinks in sort of random, chaotic ways and that he can only learn things he's passionate about. His philosophy is that ...more
Dec 22, 2010 Hermgirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I think what appealed to me about this book was the fact that it was the story of someone who had dropped out of school early and yet made a success of themselves.

What I didn't know was that I would learn things that go completely against what I've been taught. Things like, "Procrastinating isn't a way of running away from problems, it's a way of *solving* problems." And that it's ok to *quit* trying sometimes if you feel like it.

Of course, one wonders how well James Bach would have done, if he
Josh Meares
Jun 05, 2010 Josh Meares rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short book, I finished it in time to watch a tv show on the flight from LA to Dallas. Well worth the time. Another call to reform the educational system, though this time in the form of a successful dropout from public school. It is also a real life testimony to the effectiveness (at least in this case) of the principles of Teen 2.0. Bach was living on his own very early in his teenage years. Bach has developed a pretty good system of self-education that allows him to stay at the top of an ever- ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Jen rated it really liked it
over all liked it. may have felt a little repetitive. the epilogue and the following essay were my favorites. at least it is what most pertained to my needs/life directly. of course i read it because i had seen it floating around the homeschool forums and i had read many of his fathers books. all of which i stole off my mom's bookshelves in the early 90's, in my early 20's. i think this author would be ok with my thieving ways to learn. HA! i did enjoy his acceptance of his own quirks and leanin ...more
Jun 06, 2010 Adrianna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading, 2010
Bach vaguely references generalized historical facts or philosophies in attempt to appear smart and educated. However, the fact that the author is a high school drop out is clearly evident after reading a few pages because this book is so poorly written. This is more of a self-indulgent memoir and crusade against education rather than a self-help guide to approach education independently.
Tim Mcleod
May 19, 2015 Tim Mcleod rated it it was ok
Shelves: academia
It needed an editor. I was looking forward to this being about scholarship for its own sake and expertise outside of the academy, but it reads like a bloated low-budget TED talk.
John Paxton
Apr 04, 2016 John Paxton rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 17, 2014 Elaine rated it did not like it
It's about a guy given a book deal to boast about himself.
Adriane Devries
Jul 25, 2011 Adriane Devries rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching
In Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar, James Bach delves into the processes that allowed him to enjoy a successful career as an IT consultant, public speaker and author, without the benefit of even a high school diploma. Through the school of hard knocks and life experience, combined with his own insatiable curiosity about how the world works, he learned all he ever needed to know along the way, mostly for free from the library and colleagues, using such methods as cyclical learning, procrastination ...more
Michael Larsen
Dec 13, 2013 Michael Larsen rated it really liked it
First: a disclaimer; some people love James Bach, some people cannot stand James Bach, and many people fall somewhere in between. I happen to be a fan of his blunt and in-your face approach, and find the way that he writes to be both refreshing and unnerving (I like Larry Winget for the exact same reasons). James does not filter. He says what he thinks and lets the chips fall where they may. He is especially blunt about his criticism of the current school system and the reasons why he dropped ou ...more
Anthony Deluca
Mar 31, 2013 Anthony Deluca rated it liked it
By: James Marcus Bach
Read: October 2009
Reviewed: November 2009
Copyright: 2009

Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success is a book like no other book I have ever read. It is one man’s account of how traditional education is not optimal, and his form of education is more effective. He backs up his subjective claims with his own successful professional life.

James Marcus Bach did not like school much. He acted on his dislike by
May 30, 2013 Tracey rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book about James Bach, a techie guru or sorts. He dropped out of school because he had a difficult time with formalized learning. He has been very successful in his career, however, this is due to his high intelligence and his passion for learning. I would not recommend this path in life for all kids who want to drop out of school.

Now, his life story made me think about the educational system and how we do not meet the needs of all learners. With the current testing craz
Nov 12, 2015 Nathik rated it it was amazing
James Bach presents a radical approach to education. Drop out of school if you feel the system is not working for you and take responsibility for your education.

This book deserves 5 stars for its simple and straightforward approach to become an autodidact. I loved all the mind hacks especially "SACKED SCOWS". Quick and fun read.
Mattia Battiston
Sep 12, 2015 Mattia Battiston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The message is: self education can take you further than what most schools and teachers can. Keep curios, explore all the fields that interest you, never stop learning.
Jan 20, 2010 Eric rated it it was amazing
This book was great fun. As a random pickup at the library, I didn't expect much but it actually spoke to me on several levels. Firstly, the writing was fun and quick to read : the book does not bury the reader under dense text. Secondly, I truly felt a kindred spirit in the author's story. While I did not drop out of school, I very much understood and related to much of his thoughts and feelings (and methodologies) regarding learning and education. What is most interesting is that I didn't even ...more
Shyam Sundar
Nov 25, 2015 Shyam Sundar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fine, fine book. Important and enlightening, albeit only for select people. People who value self-education.
Sep 06, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this insightful, practical, and very personal presentation of one (successful!) man's journey to understand how he learns best.

A favorite insight of his that I'm still chewing on:

"My expectations for myself are what I know I can do. My aspirations are what I hope I can do. ... My aspirations should not be set at the same level as my expectations, because then there is no zone of engagement. I won't learn and grow, except by accident. If I set my aspirations very high, I have something i
Dec 24, 2010 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, but the real title of this book is "School Sucks".

I wish I could have given this book to myself when I was 18 years old. And his advice is only really applicable if you have a talent for software -- if you tried getting a job in a literary field or anywhere outside of the software world, you'd find that people are far less willing to give the benefit of the doubt. If you're not bright and driven, you're not going to do what he did.

But as an extended rant and a finger to the school sy
Aug 14, 2012 Christina rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in education as a way of life
Being homeschooled my entire life, I have always marched to the beat of a different drum, not content to merely memorize facts and regurgitate them on tests (Thanks Mom!). I've always had an insatiable curiosity, and have followed my varied interests all over the library and the internet. Truly, my only hobby is "learning." It seems that others I talk to often don't understand that, so it was refreshing to read a book by a person who approaches education in the same manner as I do. And he's a su ...more
Feb 24, 2010 Marie rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle-edition
This book should have been a memoir, not the half-assed self-help book it turned into. The author's personal story is interesting: he's the son of a famous author, dropped out of school in the 8th grade, and went on to manage a team of software testers at Apple at age 20. He's a hardcore unschooler/autodidact, and his methods of educating himself are interesting and have clearly worked.... for him. Unfortunately the "self-helpy" recommendations he makes based on his own learning style are disjoi ...more
Aug 14, 2009 Skeller2483 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. I've followed James Bach in the professional Software Testing arena for some time now and was interested to learn that he was self-taught. This book does not completely write off the value of formal education, but encourages us to do more than just "formally educate." To be fully educated, we need to constantly be learning and Bach gives us several ways we can continually search and learn. Excellent book which I would recommend to everyone, and not just those in the SQA or c ...more
Michael Coyne
Jan 07, 2011 Michael Coyne rated it liked it
Quite a good read, but the format irked me a bit. The self-learning tips were scattered amongst his personal remembrances - previous jobs, tellings off by school teachers etc - which diminished their impact. The author sounds like a very interesting guy, but I'd prefer that element to be separate.

Aside from that, some really useful tips on self-propelled learning. The constant buccaneer/pirate lingo became increasingly tiresome though as it went on: frequently thought, "I know there's a point h
Kathy Sarlog
Mar 06, 2011 Kathy Sarlog rated it liked it
An inspiring look at how Bach took charge of his own education and forged himself a satisfying and productive future. I particularly enjoyed his opening anecdote relaying the response of a teacher at his speaking engagement in which he said he dropped out of school, took charge of his own education, and the students could do it, too, if school wasn't meeting their needs.

Bach's voice is a refreshing reminder that schooling does not equal education, and that certificates and grades are not worth
Feb 07, 2013 Peter rated it it was ok
Shelves: education
The author recommends dropping out of school and becoming a self-motivated and self-taught learner. I'm not sure this would work with everyone. You have to be really motivated to work on your own. And his disrespectful attitude toward his teachers and the work involved could translate into disrespect toward an employer and the work involved at a job.

But I do think it is important to learn how to learn for yourself new things, and have an attitude of learning that doesn't require official schooli
Feb 10, 2011 Keivan rated it really liked it
Great book! He makes some good points about the way our school systems might not be the best course for everyone.

Many people go through school and by the end they might have a College Degree or maybe even a few college degrees, but how much does that person actually know?

We do have to thank schools for a few things: Making us Literate, and teaching us arithmetic. These things empower us for the rest of our lives to read the work of others and educate ourselves.
JC Espiritu
Aug 10, 2010 JC Espiritu rated it liked it
Memoir of a high-school dropout who by his passion and unquenchable thirst for learning was able to reinvent himself as a top software tester for Apple. I share the same conviction with him that we highly overrate college degrees. The issue in today's knowledge economy is not how much you know, but how much are you learning. Learning doesn't begin and end in school... it continues on... Life is a serious matter and it only goes to those who have intelligence and heart.
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I am the second son of author Richard Bach. I've been on my own since 14. I quit school at 16. I taught myself computing, and became a software testing expert.

I have made my way among educated people as an educated man, but I have shunned institutional education. I developed methods of teaching myself what I need and want to know. So can you.

I've done all this while suffering from a mild disabili
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“GREAT SECRET Whenever I’m learning something difficult, I keep expectations low, and aspirations high.” 6 likes
“The beginning [of a journey] is a terrible time to plan. It's the moment of greatest ignorance. In self-directed education, a lot of the value comes from exploiting opportunities that arise well out to sea, once I've seen some things and begun the learning process.” 5 likes
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