A Truck Full of Money

A Truck Full Of Money

Tracy Kidder wrote a book about me which was published by Random House on 9/20/2016. Here are some questions I've been asked about it.

  1. How did Tracy come to write a book about you?

    Tracy and I first met in 2003, while he was writing Mountains Beyond Mountains, the story of Dr. Paul Farmer and PIH in Haiti. We served together as PIH advisors for many years. A few years ago, he asked me if he could write a book about me. At first I said no, since that sounded terrible, but he won me over with drinks over several weeks.

  2. Where there any conditions on working together on this book?

    Tracy had one condition - that I not be allowed to see anything he is writing until the book is completed. I had two conditions - that he not write about my divorce, and that he "not make me look better than I am". :)

  3. How did you decide which characters and stories would appear in the book?

    Tracy was my shadow for one year. He lived with me half time and went to all of my meetings. He recorded hundreds of hours of meetings, and wrote thousands of pages of text. It was Tracy -- not me -- who decided which of all of this would make it into the final book. I had no idea what would be in the book until it was completed.

  4. Did Tracy leave out anything you wished he had published?

    • I wish he had described the product/design/build process that I worked on with Lincoln Jackson and Jeff Rago at Kayak. I think our process was unique, and it led to the creation of a very successful product.
    • At one point, Tracy asked me to show him what code looked like, and to see if I could teach him how to code. So we spent dozens of hours doing through my xiangqi.com Chinese Chess game source code, but ultimately this part of the book got cut.
    • There were many friends and family members who influence me on a regular basis. I wish he could have written about all of them. :)

  5. Where did the book title come from?

    In 1997, my long-term collaborator Bill O'Donnell said he was going to join my company Boston Light since "some day Paul was going to get hit by a truck full of money, and he wanted to be standing next to me". Tracy loved that story (and he covers it in the book).

  6. Are you as smart as the book portrays you?

    I know tons of people who are "smarter" than me. I am also dramatically below average on many things, including sense of direction, having face blindness, having a terrible memory, being socially awkward at times (perhaps a bit on the spectrum), attending large meetings, following lots of process, doing paperwork, etc.

  7. Are you as crazy as the book portrays you?

    Probably yes, especially when I'm in a hypo-manic phase of my bipolar illness.

  8. Do you like the book?

    It's hard to be objective about it. I only got to read the book after it had been completed. I read it once, quickly. Tracy is a brilliant writer and he makes ordinary things extraordinary. I liked reading the stories about my father and about my mentor Tom White.

If the book inspired you in any way, I would be most grateful if you took some time to learn about Summits Education in Haiti. I'm pouring my heart and soul into this endeavor, and will work on this for decades to come.

Do you have any other questions? Email .

paulenglish.com - articles - startups - nonprofits - press 25-Feb-2022