Chris Gardner’s “The Pursuit of Happyness”

Synopsis (via Goodreads): At the age of twenty, Milwaukee native Chris Gardner, just out of the Navy, arrived in San Francisco to pursue a promising career in medicine. Considered a prodigy in scientific research, he surprised everyone and himself by setting his sights on the competitive world of high finance. Yet no sooner had he landed an entry-level position at a prestigious firm than Gardner found himself caught in a web of incredibly challenging circumstances that left him as part of the city’s working homeless and with a toddler son. Motivated by the promise he made to himself as a fatherless child to never abandon his own children, the two spent almost a year moving among shelters, “HO-tels,” soup lines, and even sleeping in the public restroom of a subway station.

Never giving in to despair, Gardner made an astonishing transformation from being part of the city’s invisible poor to being a powerful player in its financial district.

Outlook: It’s no secret that most of the time, the book is better than the movie.  This is no exception.  Yes, they are two separate forms of entertainment, but you can’t take a 500 page novel and crush it into 2 hours.  In the film adaptation of “The Pursuit of Happyness”, it only covers the last portion of Gardner’s life.  Obviously, this is the portion that sells tickets.  The film was not about his life as a whole, but how he went from homeless with a toddler to his own investment firm, Gardner & Rich LLC.

Gardner’s journey takes us from his fatherless childhood, the men who tried to take on such role, an inspiring uncle and mother, his military career and finally the pursuit of Wall Street.

When I purchased this book, it was before I had read “Start Where You Are”. I wanted to see if the film “The Pursuit of Happyness” was really like the book, or was it Hollywood’s take on it.  Moreover, I wanted more detail, and to hear it from the man himself.

I was pleased to read that the book was about Gardner’s entire life, and not the final chapters of Wall Street success.  Gardner’s words inspired me, and was just another reason to pick up “Start Where You Are”.

About 70% of this book is Gardner’s struggles as a young man, military career, and finding himself.  The last portion is what we see in the film.

A terrific biography, from a humble and brilliant man.  Whenever I feel down, or am thinking “fuck this” I look to Gardner.

I’ve read this book twice, and I think it’s about time for another.

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