Tracy Kidder

Franklin Library Tracy Kidder books

The Soul of a New Machine - Pulitzer Prize Classics - 1986
Among School Children - signed first edition - 1989


Author Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder, born on November 12, 1945, in New York City, is an acclaimed American nonfiction author known for his immersive and meticulously researched works of narrative journalism. Throughout his career, Kidder has distinguished himself as a master storyteller, delving into the lives of ordinary people to illuminate the complexities of the human experience. Raised in Connecticut, Kidder attended Harvard University, where he studied English literature. After graduating, he served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, an experience that would later inform his writing and worldview.

Kidder's literary career began in the 1970s with the publication of his first book, The Road to Yuba City, which chronicled the experiences of a group of Vietnam War veterans traveling cross-country. However, it was his 1981 book The Soul of a New Machine that catapulted Kidder to literary stardom. The book, which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, provides an in-depth look at the world of computer engineering and the development of a new computer at Data General Corporation. Throughout his career, Kidder has continued to write immersive works of narrative nonfiction, often focusing on individuals and communities grappling with profound challenges. His books, including House, Among Schoolchildren, and Mountains Beyond Mountains, explore a wide range of subjects, from architecture and education to public health and social justice.

Kidder's writing is characterized by its meticulous research, vivid characterizations, and empathetic portrayals of his subjects. He has a knack for capturing the nuances of human relationships and the intricacies of the human spirit, drawing readers into the worlds of his subjects and inviting them to see the world through their eyes.

In addition to his literary achievements, Kidder is also a respected lecturer and advocate for the power of storytelling to effect positive change in the world. He continues to inspire readers and writers alike with his commitment to truth, empathy, and the transformative potential of narrative nonfiction. Tracy Kidder's contributions to the world of literature and journalism have earned him numerous awards and accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. His work stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling to illuminate the human condition and inspire empathy, understanding, and change.

The Soul of a New Machine

Published in 1981, The Soul of a New Machine is a compelling work of narrative nonfiction by American author Tracy Kidder. The book provides an in-depth and immersive look at the world of computer engineering and the development of a new computer at Data General Corporation in the late 1970s. Set against the backdrop of the burgeoning computer industry, "The Soul of a New Machine" follows a team of engineers at Data General as they race to design and build a new 32-bit minicomputer in response to competition from rival companies. Led by project manager Tom West, the team faces intense pressure, tight deadlines, and daunting technical challenges as they strive to bring their vision to life. Kidder's narrative takes readers inside the inner workings of Data General, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the company's culture, hierarchy, and dynamics. Through vivid characterizations and meticulous research, Kidder brings to life the personalities and motivations of the engineers, managers, and executives involved in the project.

The Soul of a New Machine is praised for its gripping storytelling, richly drawn characters, and insightful exploration of the creative process. Kidder captures the excitement and intensity of technological innovation, as well as the human drama and interpersonal dynamics that drive it. The book received widespread acclaim upon its publication, winning the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1982. It has since become a classic of the genre, admired for its ability to make complex technical concepts accessible to a general audience and for its timeless insights into the nature of creativity, ambition, and teamwork.

The Soul of a New Machine continues to inspire readers with its celebration of ingenuity, perseverance, and the quest for excellence in the face of daunting challenges. It remains a must-read for anyone interested in the history of computing, the process of innovation, or the human side of technology.

Among School Children

Published in 1989, Among School Children is a poignant and insightful work of narrative nonfiction by American author Tracy Kidder. The book provides an intimate and immersive portrait of a fifth-grade classroom and its teacher, Chris Zajac, at the Kelly School in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Through vivid storytelling and meticulous observation, Kidder takes readers inside the classroom, offering a window into the daily lives, struggles, and triumphs of the students and their dedicated teacher. He explores the challenges facing urban public schools and the complexities of education, poverty, and social inequality in America.

Among School Children delves into the personal histories and aspirations of the students, revealing the impact of poverty, violence, and family instability on their lives. Kidder also examines the dynamics of the classroom, the interactions between teacher and students, and the role of education in shaping young minds and futures. Throughout the book, Kidder reflects on his own experiences as a parent and educator, offering insights into the joys and frustrations of teaching and learning. He raises thought-provoking questions about the purpose of education, the responsibilities of teachers, and the possibilities for positive change in the education system.

Among School Children is praised for its empathy, nuance, and humanistic approach to storytelling. Kidder captures the complexities of the human spirit and the resilience of the human heart, painting a vivid and moving portrait of life in an urban classroom. The book received widespread critical acclaim upon its publication and won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 1990. It continues to be regarded as a classic of the genre, admired for its depth of insight, compassion, and relevance to contemporary discussions about education and social justice. Among School Children remains a powerful and illuminating exploration of the transformative power of education and the enduring impact of dedicated teachers on the lives of their students. It is a testament to the potential for hope, healing, and growth in even the most challenging of circumstances.

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