"Real, exciting, courageous, this story is universal and just might provide us with a new understanding of the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. A page turner, The Pursuit of Happyness will keep you up all night."-- Reverend Cecil Williams, Glide United Methodist
"The quintessential rags-to-riches American dream story- amazing and inspirational. In [this] heartwarming memoir...Chris Gardner takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride through his troubled yet remarkable life."-- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"in this stirring autobiography...Gardner recounts his 'long walk to wall Wall Street,' a journey that took him from a childhood in the ghettos of Milwaukee to an enormously successful career as a stockbroker in Ne York City."-- Library Journal
The astounding yet true rags-to-riches saga of a homeless father who raised and cared for his son on the mean streets of San Francisco and went on to become a crown prince of Wall Street
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.
More than a memoir of Gardner's financial success, this is the story of a man who breaks his own family's cycle of men abandoning their children. Mythic, triumphant, and unstintingly honest, The Pursuit of Happyness conjures heroes like Horatio Alger and Antwone Fisher, and appeals to the very essence of the American Dream.
In my memory's sketch of early childhood, drawn by an artist of the impressionist school, there is one image that stands out above the rest — which when called forth is preceded by the mouth-watering aroma of pancake syrup warming in a skillet and the crackling, bubbling sounds of the syrup transforming magically into homemade pull candy. Then she comes into view, the real, real pretty woman who stands at the stove, making this magic just for me.
Or at least, that's how it feels to a boy of three years old. There is another wonderful smell that accompanies her presence as she turns, smiling right in my direction, as she steps closer to where I stand in the middle of the kitchen — waiting eagerly next to my sister, seven-year-old Ophelia, and two of the other children, Rufus and Pookie, who live in this house. As she slips the cooling candy off the wooden spoon, pulling and breaking it into pieces that she brings and places in my outstretched hand, as she watches me happily gobbling up the tasty sweetness, her wonderful fragrance is there again. Not perfume or anything floral or spicy — it's just a clean, warm, good smell that wraps around me like a Superman cape, making me feel strong, special, and loved — even if I don't have words for those concepts yet.
Though I don't know who she is, I sense a familiarity about her, not only because she has come before and made candy in this same fashion, but also because of how she looks at me — like she's talking to me from her eyes, saying, You remember me, don't you?
“Others may question your credentials, your papers, your degrees. Others may look for all kinds of ways to diminish your worth. But what is inside you no one can take from you or tarnish. This is your worth, who you really are, your degree that can go with you wherever you go, that you bring with you the moment you come into a room, that can't be manipulated or shaken. Without that sense of self, no amount of paper, no pedigree, and no credentials can make you legit. No matter what, you have to feel legit inside first.”
“It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?”
“There was a language specific to all things. The ability to learn another language in one arena, whether it was music, medicine, or finance, could be used to accelerate learning and other arenas, too.”
“Sizing up succinctly his lack of formal education compared with his determination to learn from others, the author writes, "I went to college with every person I ever met.”