I read Tracy Kidder’s Pulitzer winning Soul of a New Machine, when it came out 30 years ago and still remember it. He is a superb researcher and writer and an excellent storyteller. This is one book I definitely plan to read (it’s on order from my library).
SNM is a story of hardware, namely the computer that emerged from Data General’s skunkworks, and it’s still worth reading; I highly recommend it.
30 years later Kidder wanted to do something similar only focused on software and asked serial entrepreneur and Kayak founder Paul English, whom he knew, for help.
The book Kidder ended up writing is quite different from the one he set out to do.
The book that emerges, A Truck Full of Money: One Man’s Quest to Recover from Great Success, may disappoint those looking for a nuts-and-bolts breakdown of coding or of Kayak’s innovations in user interface. But it will reward readers open to its philosophic nature and collage-like structure. It is at once a portrait of a precocious programmer and entrepreneur, and of his team of life-long collaborators; a meditation on mania and the peculiar mindset behind computer coding; and a look at men driven to create and build, make a lot of money, and then give it all away.
SNM provided a fascinating backstory to the philosophy, people and intangibles of tech and it seems Kidder has done that again.
It’s a somewhat rare, in-depth look at the humanity that exists in the tech world.
I sincerely hope A Truck Full of Money wins Kidder another Pulitzer.
And that you enjoy it.