Randy Pausch, a professor at the Carnegie Mellon University, coauthored this book with the journalist Jeffrey Zaslow.
He gave a lecture titled ‘The Last Lecture-Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’, after he was diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, in September 2007. The phenomenal success of the lecture led him to write this book, adding to what he talked about in the lecture and about his life in entirety, so as to leave a legacy for his family.
In spite of his illness, he remained upbeat and worked towards easing his family’s life after he was gone. As he says in his b ook, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
The Last Lecture was the title of an ongoing series of lectures given yearly at Carnegie Mellon University where top academics gave a hypothetical ‘last lecture’. They were asked to think deeply about what mattered to them the most and impart their life’s wisdom.
The book is broadly divided into three parts. The first part of the book talks about how he has been a dreamer since his childhood. He talks of his childhood dreams and how important it is for every person to dream and work towards realising them.
The second part talks about Enabling the Dreams of others. Randy Pausch believes that it is just as important to become an enabler for other people than it is to work towards one’s own goals. He talks of many instances where he guided others in their careers.
The third part talks about life’s lessons learnt. He talks about the things he thinks enhance productivity and the quality of life.
As Randy reiterates, the lecture and later on the book is really leaving a legacy for his children, who are too young at the time, so that they can know their father through his words and sharing of his life’s experiences. He talks of his childhood lessons he wants his children to learn and many other things about himself that he wants his children to know.
In the end, he talks about time being crucial in life because it is finite. “The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.”
The book is often compared to another best seller, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, written by Mitch Albom, where a dying professor talks of life and the lessons learnt.
Overall, the book, ‘The Last Lecture’ is a well written account of the author’s life and the lessons he has learnt throughout.