Book Review: The Last Lecture

Book: The Last Lecture

By: Randy Pausch

Reviewed by: Kenzie Bertrand


The Premise: The Last Lecture is a national bestseller by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in August 2007. The university has a tradition of inviting professors to give a lecture to their students, as if it is their last. What would you say? What life lessons have you learned? What words of advice would you share? For Randy, his “Last Lecture” titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” at CMU on September 18th, 2007, really was his last lecture.

Randy’s lecture was full stories from his childhood, his life as a father and a husband, and he shares the life lessons he has learned along the way. The lecture is full of hope, optimism, and humour. It went viral on YouTube and was shortly published into a book in 2008. Randy got to witness his lecture go viral, co-author this book and give an abridged version of his speech on The Oprah Winfrey Show before he passed away in July of 2008.

The Bottomline: The book described the lecture well and I felt the passion and emotion through the written words. I was inspired by some of his stories and life lessons, and I appreciated his vulnerability and frankness. After reading the book, I watched the lecture on YouTube, and I would say watching and listening to the lecture is 10x more powerful. He was a captivating lecturer, and you could tell there was a tremendous amount of respect from his students and faculty who provided a long standing ovation before Randy even started to speak. The bottom line, The Last Lecture is powerful, relevant, and inspiring, especially after the long month of January.

Recommendation: I recommend anyone to watch The Last Lecture on YouTube to get the most value out of lecture. If you don’t have two hours to spare, I recommend watching the condensed 10-minute version of his speech that he presented on The Oprah Winfrey Show.