William T.'s Reviews > The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
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Jan 18, 2009

did not like it
Read in January, 2009

No doubt Randy Pausch was a nice guy. But this book is smarmy, self-indulgent crap--which is ok given the circumstances under which he gave this lecture. But it is not worth reading.

This is typical 1980's individualistic, unreflective advise on how to succeed in life. Alas, Professor Pausch does not realize that he was born white, male, middle income, in exactly the time in the 20th century where he could avoid confronting WWI, WWII, the depression, Korea, Vietnam, urban riots of the 1960's, the civil right movement,and the women's movement because he was too young. And he got to miss all of the problems of Bush 1 and Bush 2 in the middle east because he was too old and affluent.

So he has the privilege and lack of social awareness to totally ignore the entire social context that provided and constructed his wonderful, if unfortunately short, life. Thus he leaves out the advise that was most important to his success. Have the pre-natel intelligence to be born male at the right time, in the right place, to parents who are racially privileged citizens of a superpower in ascendance during a brief window of peace at a time of expanding educational opportunity for middle-income working people in an expanding economy. Then these individualistic platitudes, if you are also very, very fortunate, may possibly help--but then again, they may not.

Nice guy, sweet sentiment, save your money.
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03/17/2016 marked as: read

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message 3: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Interesting you would say he "does not realize" he was born into the situation he was. I noticed that was one of the first things he admits.


message 2: by William (last edited Dec 12, 2012 01:43AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

William T. Laura wrote: "Interesting you would say he "does not realize" he was born into the situation he was. I noticed that was one of the first things he admits."

That is true of all of us. But a serious scholar, indeed every educated person, takes on the responsibility of living and well-considered, critically examined life.

His expertise and the warrant for his last lecture is that he has done so, consequently appealing to the limitations imposed by ones social context as excusing unexamined matters of great importance, undermines the value of his comments and his contribution more generally.

We all have such limitations, many of us consider them, correct them, or alternately avoid grand pronouncements of wisdom.


Sergio Lopez Well said


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