A Truck Full of Money

A Truck Full of Money

Book - 2016
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Author Kidder gives us a window onto the paradoxical world of software engineering and Internet commerce, where genius and artistry often mingle with vulgarity and greed, and where Paul English, for all his success, seems at times almost an innocent. Fortune, mania, genius, philanthropy--the co-founder of the travel website Kayak.com grew up in working-class Boston in the 1970s, a boy who rebelled against authority but discovered a world that called out to his talents the first time he saw a computer. Despite suffering from what would eventually be diagnosed as bipolar disorder, English belongs to what computer scientist Donald Knuth has called the 2 percent: people with a special talent that lay dormant in a fraction of humanity, waiting for its instrument--the computer--to be invented. As a young man possessed by what he calls "the fire," Paul English invents companies, and while not all succeed, he keeps bouncing back, discovering in himself a talent for conceiving innovative enterprises and building teams that can develop them. He becomes, as one observer puts it, "a Pied Piper" of geeks. His optimism, energy, and kindness, his innate sense of fair play, and his native abilities inspire intense loyalty among his followers. Early on, one colleague who leaves a good job to follow him to a start-up remarks, "Someday this boy's going to get hit by a truck full of money, and I'm going to be standing beside him." Yet when English does indeed make a fortune--when Kayak is sold for almost two billion dollars--the first thing he thinks about is how to give the money away. The second thing is, What's next? Kidder casts a fresh, critical, and often humorous eye on the way new money and new ideas--often frivolous and yet vital to virtually every aspect of modern society--are reshaping our culture and the world, and takes us inside the mind of a mesmerizing figure who is unique and yet a representative creature of our entrepreneurial age--bold, big-hearted, and as unpredictable as America itself.--Adapted from dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780812995244
Branch Call Number: 338.7 KIDDER
Characteristics: xxiv, 259 pages ; 24 cm


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May 27, 2017

Nicely written and an enjoyable read, but I kept wondering where it was going and never did find out. I suspect the problem is that it reads like fiction, and with a novel one expects a denouement of some kind, which of course is lacking here.

Apr 07, 2017

Really enjoyed this book and the setting. Reading it on the T and passing by some of the locations was a neat experience. Kidder's books have deeply inspired me.

Oct 01, 2016

Geez, I'm sorry but I just found this book so bland, and full of bland superficialities. I enjoyed Kidder's other two books [The Soul of a New Machine] and the one on constructing a house in Vermont a great deal, but this book reminded me of the superficial and less-than-truthful writing of George Leonard back in the 1960s - - 1970s [where he repeated the fictions of substandard newsies as if they were absolute fact: we only use 10% of our brains, a joke by Einstein which a reporter misreported on; lemmings run off cliffs, that 13th monkey fiction, et cetera].
I thought it most fitting that Kidder ended with the character, Paul English, doing his Uber driver gig, ostensibly seeking feedback on his latest travel site, and // connecting with The People \\ - - this guy just doesn't track; as clueless about Uber as he is about everything else, and still stuck at 13.


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