The Last Lecture, a book cowritten by computer science professor Randy Pausch and Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow, was published in 2008 by Hyperion. It is based on the highly acclaimed and inspirational lecture presented by Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University on September 18, 2007.
The title of the book is derived from the concept of a retiring professor’s “last lecture,” which includes the professor’s insights into life and what really matters. Pausch was forced to deliver an untimely and very literal last lecture after facing a diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer. His lecture, titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," was delivered in front of an audience filled with Pausch’s family, friends, students, and colleagues; it quickly received praise from the public after a copy was posted online, and Pausch even gave an abridged version of his lecture on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Written with humor and wisdom, this book serves as a reflection of the main points of Pausch’s lecture. In it, Pausch discusses the importance of childhood dreams and how to go about achieving them as one grows older. The major points of his book include taking the time to dream, the importance of good parents in a child’s life, and how to put people before materials. Intertwined in the major themes of his lecture are Pausch’s own personal anecdotes, complete with how he was able to turn his boyhood dreams into reality, including becoming an Imagineer for Walt Disney World, and creating the Alice software project.
In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” Through his stories and experience, Pausch imparts readers with a “how-to” guide when striving to reach goals and dreams, but the book also serves as one man’s legacy to his three young children. Pausch lived to see The Last Lecture become a New York Times best seller in April of 2008. He lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008, at the age of forty-seven, but not before inspiring millions of readers to never stop believing in their dreams.