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A Truck Full of Money Hardcover – September 20, 2016
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“A Truck Full of Money, which traces [Paul] English’s rocket rise during the Internet’s founding era while dealing for years with undiagnosed bipolar disease that sometimes made him soar and sometimes brought him low, acts as a fitting bookend to his Pulitzer Prize–winning The Soul of a New Machine. In part, it is to contemporary computer software what Soul was to 1970s computer hardware. . . . Kidder’s prose glides with a figure skater’s ease, but without the glam. His is a seemingly artless art, like John McPhee’s, that conceals itself in sentences that are necessary, economical, and unpretentious.”—The Boston Globe
“Kidder’s portrayal of living with manic depression is as nuanced and intimate as a reader might ever expect to get. . . . You can’t help admiring Mr. English and cheering for him.”—The New York Times
“[A] powerful and insightful tale that makes the Internet era entertaining, and defines English as an endearing, generous and eccentric geek.”—USA Today
“Kidder’s readable account of an intriguing man’s zigzagging life . . . succeeds in helping those of us on the outskirts of the engineering world understand how people like Paul English are pulled towards computing at a young age. At times, the narrative of the young technologist, at least in Kidder’s hands, seems the modern equivalent of the story of the godless wayfarer who stumbles into a cathedral in a distant city, only to find that its vaulting arches and organ music bring on exaltations of mind and spirit.”—The New York Times Book Review
“What kind of entrepreneur talks about making money as if it’s, well, kind of a bummer? You’ll ask yourself that question about a dozen or so pages into A Truck Full of Money, Tracy Kidder’s expertly reported, deftly written new book that tracks the rise of unconventional software executive and Kayak.com co-founder Paul English.”—The San Francisco Chronicle
“Kidder writes beautifully, creating an engaging storyline while avoiding clichés and pretention. . . . Readers are in for a fascinating ride.”—The National Book Review
“Tracy Kidder has a nose for great stories. . . . A Truck Full of Money follows the trajectory of Paul English, a giant in the world of software engineering, who is equal parts geek, rock star and rainmaker. . . . Tracy Kidder’s achievement in this biography is matched by the ease of his storytelling. Kidder takes on a hugely complicated man—brilliant, troubled, obsessive, a charismatic team leader, dutiful son and ‘monster coder,’ as English might say—and he paints a rich, three-dimensional portrait. He also gives a sense of the wild start-up culture in which English thrived. That Paul English comes across as a shrewd, appealing character, not a saint, reflects Kidder’s success.”—Portland Press Herald
“[I]f you are an entrepreneur, investor, or curious about the intersection of mental health and entrepreneurship, or just love a great nonfiction book that reads like a novel, A Truck Full of Money should be the next book you read.”–Brad Feld, FeldThoughts
“A Truck Full of Money is quintessentially American, perhaps because English is the epitome of the American dream of climbing from ‘rags to riches.’ The magic of the book is found in its ability to inhabit multiple spheres at once—from English’s life to the field of computer science to commentary about American culture.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“A Truck Full of Money is not only an intriguing account of one computer whiz’s rise (and occasional falls), but an in-depth look at the inner workings of the tech startup world. . . . Kidder’s highly readable account is as mesmerizing as the generous genius he depicts. . . . A wild, ultimately fulfilling ride from a master storyteller.”—BookPage
“Thirty-five years [after The Soul of a New Machine] Kidder returns to the domain of computer nerds with this profile of Internet entrepreneur Paul English. . . . Once again, Kidder hits the mark, painting a riveting portrait of an endearing society outlier and highlighting the rapidly changing trends in today’s computer-driven marketplace.”—Booklist
“A Truck Full of Money, an illuminating profile of Internet entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul English, is yet another such engaging story. . . . Kidder is among the contemporary masters of narrative nonfiction. His is an understated, unobtrusive style, not one that injects him into the narrative. His portrait of English is clearly admiring, but honest. . . . When it comes to Paul English’s fascinating story, Tracy Kidder leaves us wondering with great anticipation: ‘What’s next?’”—Shelf Awareness
“Kidder, whose honors include a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award tells English’s story while pondering how new technologies, new money, and ubiquitous start-ups are redirecting our culture”—Library Journal
“In this fascinating biography, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains) chronicles the life and complex personality of Paul English. . . . This is a biography not just of one man, but of an era and of the startup culture.”—Publishers Weekly
“A perfectly executed, exquisitely reported parable of the Internet age, and the wild, mad adventure that is start-up culture.”—Charles Duhigg
“A Truck Full of Money brings us into unknown spaces of the complex workings of the mind—of a brilliant software engineer, of this new decade, of the brutal/fast business of technology, of stunning privilege, and of one man’s efforts to put his fortune to humane use.”—Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
“The story of [an] entrepreneur’s remarkable life [and] the new American economy and the technological world that built it. More engrossing work from a gifted practitioner of narrative nonfiction.”—Kirkus
About the Author
Tracy Kidder graduated from Harvard and studied at the University of Iowa. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. The author of Strength in What Remains, My Detachment, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine, Kidder lives in Massachusetts and Maine.
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Tracy Kidder has captured this interesting, unique man in a way that shows how passion, talent and likeability can fuel success. He addresses hypomania to inform us that a flaw can also be a feature.
The book ended rather abruptly for my taste. I would have liked an addendum that updated us on the work Paul started in Haiti and with the homeless in his own town.
Totally recommend this book to anyone who is interested, not only for people interested in Computer Science or Entrepeneurship, because this guy deserves way more appreciattion.
I actually know Paul English, and his genuine brilliance doesn't come through in the book.
I even got to experience some of Paul's obsession with fast cars when he gave me a ride home from a party in high school in his old Camaro, topping 70 mph in a 30 mile-per-hour zone. I think I can say that since that the statute of limitations is now past ;-)
I followed Paul's career from a distance and had the opportunity to work with him a little bit when he joined the board of the startup company where I was the head of marketing and product management.
The thing that was most surprising about this book was how accurately Mr. Kidder captured Paul's life – or at least the small parts that I experienced firsthand.
Like some of the other reviewers, I would have appreciated to hear more about Paul's philanthropic endeavors or his struggle with bipolar disorder. At the same time, going to deep would have felt like an invasion of his privacy.
But overall, the thing that was most interesting to me was the description of the elements that made him most successful in his multiple endeavors. I think Paul's formula is pretty simple – he does things he is extremely passionate about and he assembles a team of great people to deliver on his vision. He also does have an uncanny ability for hiring great talent.
While I may have a slightly different perspective than others, I would think that anyone who has an interest in entrepreneurial ventures would learn a great deal from this book. And although it doesn't illuminate every facet of Paul's life, I can attest to the fact that the ones I personally experienced were accurately depicted in a very compelling way.