Paul English, a computer programmer, made a fortune as a co-founder of Kayak, the online flight purchasing service. Starting in a large, poor Boston family, living with bipolar disorder, he hits the jackpot and struggles to come to terms with its meaning and how to move forward.
I was very excited for a new Tracy Kidder book, but was a bit disappointed. To me it comes off as a glorification of bipolar disorder—that while it has its downsides, this type of thinking is what allowed him (or even caused him) to succeed.
It may be true that his disposition helped him professionally, but the fact that he hit it big and sold his company for a fortune—what validates the writing of this story—was lucky. If he hadn’t been fortunate enough to be part of a hugely successful venture (and he was part of many, many failed ventures), there wouldn’t have been any “Wow, that’s crazy Paul—he’s a genius”.
This complaint is largely outside of the book itself, but for some reason I couldn’t help thinking of it as I read. In Kidder’s most famous work, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Paul Farmer, a doctor, tries to bring medical care to Haitian villages. Farmer’s pursuit of this goal and his unmatched energy and dedication would be an interesting read no matter what goal he pursued and how badly he failed to achieve it. It doesn’t feel quite the same in Truck Full of Money.
Related Books: Mountains Beyond Mountains, House, My Detachment, all by Tracy Kidder
Recommend to Others: No, House or Mountains. Skip Detachment
Reread Personally: No