The Pursuit of Happyness

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Overview

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 ...

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The Pursuit of Happyness

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner. Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn't always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie "I ain't your goddamn daddy!" Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did "the dozens" with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner's talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now. Well-told and admonitory. Film rights to Columbia, to star Will Smith and Thandie Newton
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061120671
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/23/2006
  • Edition description: Large Type Edition
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner is the chief executive officer of Gardner Rich & Company, a multimillion-dollar brokerage with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. An avid philanthropist and motivational speaker, Gardner is a recipient of the Father of the Year Award from the National Fatherhood Initiative. He has two children and resides in Chicago and New York.

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Read an Excerpt

The Pursuit of Happyness


By Chris Gardner

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Chris Gardner
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060744863

Chapter One

Candy

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 Idon'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?

At this point in childhood, and for most of the first five years of my life, the map of my world was broken strictly into two territories -- the familiar and the unknown. The happy, safe zone of the familiar was very small, often a shifting dot on the map, while the unknown was vast, terrifying, and constant.

What I did know by the age of three or four was that Ophelia was my older sister and best friend, and also that we were treated with kindness by Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, the adults whose house we lived in. What I didn't know was that the Robinsons' house was a foster home, or what that meant. Our situation -- where our real parents were and why we didn't live with them, or why we sometimes did live with uncles and aunts and cousins -- was as mysterious as the situations of the other foster children living at the Robinsons'.

What mattered most was that I had a sister who looked out for me, and I had Rufus and Pookie and the other boys to follow outside for fun and mischief. All that was familiar, the backyard and the rest of the block, was safe turf where we could run and play games like tag, kick-the-can, and hide-and-seek, even after dark. That is, except, for the house two doors down from the Robinsons.

Every time we passed it I had to almost look the other way, just knowing the old white woman who lived there might suddenly appear and put an evil curse on me -- because, according to Ophelia and everyone else in the neighborhood, the old woman was a witch.

When Ophelia and I passed by the house together once and I confessed that I was scared of the witch, my sister said, "I ain't scared," and to prove it she walked right into the front yard and grabbed a handful of cherries off the woman's cherry tree.

Ophelia ate those cherries with a smile. But within the week I was in the Robinsons' house when here came Ophelia, racing up the steps and stumbling inside, panting and holding her seven-year-old chest, describing how the witch had caught her stealing cherries and grabbed her arm, cackling, "I'm gonna get you!"

Scared to death as she was now, Ophelia soon decided that since she had escaped an untimely death once, she might as well go back to stealing cherries. Even so, she made me promise to avoid the strange woman's house. "Now, remember," Ophelia warned, "when you walk by, if you see her on the porch, don't you look at her and never say nuthin' to her, even if she calls you by name."

I didn't have to promise because I knew that nothing and no one could ever make me do that. But I was still haunted by nightmares so real that I could have sworn I actually snuck into her house and found myself in the middle of a dark, creepy room where I was surrounded by an army of cats, rearing up on their back legs, baring their claws and fangs. The nightmares were so intense that for the longest time I had an irrational fear and dislike of cats. At the same time, I was not entirely convinced that this old woman was in fact a witch. Maybe she was just different. Since I'd never seen any white people other than her, I figured they might all be like that.

Then again, because my big sister was my only resource for explaining all that was unknown, I believed her and accepted her explanations. But as I pieced together fragments of information about our family over the years, mainly from Ophelia and also from some of our uncles and aunts, I found the answers much harder to grasp.

How the real pretty woman who came to make the candy fit into the puzzle, I was never told, but something old and wise inside me knew that she was important. Maybe it was how she seemed to pay special attention to me, even though she was just as nice to Ophelia and the other kids, or maybe it was how she and I seemed to have a secret way of talking without words. In our unspoken conversation, I understood her to be saying that seeing me happy made her even happier, and so . . .

Continues...


Excerpted from The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner Copyright © 2006 by Chris Gardner. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 49 )
Rating Distribution

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(22)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

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(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 29, 2013

    Do Not Recommend

    I understand that the some audio book versions skip some of the text, but this audio version skipped almost 40% of the book. I was following along with the book, and I could not believe how much the audio skipped so many sections. I ended up not using the audio and just read the book. This book is too much worth the read to skip sections.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2013

    =)

    My sister is reading this book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    Scavenger Hunt Clue #13

    Oooh. Unlucky. You will get _ years of bad luck if you break a mirror.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2012

    great book- down to earth- would highly recomend

    i am still reading it- down to earth and very honest

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    Amazing Biography

    This biography is amazing because it is so inspirational.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2012

    To Bill

    What?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2012

    Billy

    He shrugs. I cqme here cause i wanted ta. U.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner tells the tale of Chri

    The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner tells the tale of Chris' life and his struggle to the father that he has never had. His wife has left him, and he has to get a job to insure a place for him and his son to live. This is a wonderful, intriguing fictional novel that you will not want to put down. If you like a book about a father's struggle to have a good live for his son, then this is the book. This book has shown me that if I put my mind to it, i can do anything. Even if times are hard, they can always go up. This book is very inspirational and by far one of my favorite books. I give it four stars, and i recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011

    Inspirational Book!!

    The Pursuit of Happyness is a fascinating book about a man who, against all odds, figures out how to be successful in his career as a stockbroker and as a single parent father. His name is Chris Gardner and he grew up with a loving mother but very abusive stepfather that caused him a lot of emotional and physical damage. He made a promise to himself early on that he would always be present in his childrens¿ lives and would never harm them, unlike his stepfather. Throughout the many hardships of his adult life- including homelessness, divorce, and single parenting- he managed to do this all the while pursuing his own version of happiness. The major messages of this book were to dream big and to never stop reaching for your goals, no matter the roadblocks that may come your way. Chris¿ mother was highly influential in his life and she became one of his major role models. This was shown especially when it came to striving for the very best for your children, which was a value that Chris later managed to reflect in his own parenting style, even when he later found himself homeless with a young child to take care of. Some of the elements of this book that I really enjoyed were the positivity that could be found on every page of the book, and the family pictures in the middle of the book. Even during some of the toughest parts of Chris¿ life, such as when his stepfather became abusive, Chris came up with ways that he would cope with the violence at home by promising himself he would never act that way towards his children. The only dislike I had about this book was the technical language regarding his profession that was sometimes difficult to understand. Anyone who is interested in following their own route to happiness should read this book because it is full of inspiration and positive energy that will encourage you! Some other recommended works (not literary) would be to watch the Pursuit of Happiness movie, if you happened to enjoy the book. Other than this one, Chris Gardner has not written any other books so the movie is my personal recommendation. I would give this book an overall rating of a seven out of ten, because it something worth spending time reading but it was not written as eloquently as I would have preferred.

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  • Posted December 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Never Will I Doubt Whether I Can

    Never in my life will I find an obsticle where I will think "No I can't" to. This man has faced so much. Even in just the first thirteen years of his life he had faced more than I will ever dream of! I had to read this memoir for career management as an inspirational success story. And boy was it. It took a while to get through because I was forced to read it, and lets face it, no one likes to be forced to do anything, even something they love.
    He was very open in his writing and so explicit it feels like listening to a friend opening up to a dark secret. He has inspired me to overcome any obsticle and I hope you read this book so you can be too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Inspiring

    This is truly an inspiring book! I can hardly believe that it is based on a true story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2008

    The Book of Perseverance!

    This book maybe called the Pursuit of Happyness but, I haven't read a book where one person had to overcome so much in his life. This was an excellent book about life if I ever read one. From growing up without knowing his biological father, to being abused by his stepfather, to being raped when he was about 10 years old and to trying to be good father in raising a child while homeless. It's no wonder I call this book, 'The Book of Perseverance.' It shows how one man no matter what obstacles are put in front of him he finds a way to hurdle them. I enjoyed the book more than I did the movie. Don't get me wrong, the movie was good, but the book was better. There were things in the book that I thought were important that weren't put in the movie. Like his stepfather, who physically abused him when he was child. The love for his mother and the abuse she had to endure with his stepfather. I was especially moved with the bond that he had with his son. It's the kind of bond I hope I have when I have a son. Especially when I myself never knew my biological father. It's an excellent book and I recommend everyone to read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2008

    Pursuit of Happness

    To me honestly I think this book was really good and I would really recommend this amazing book especially to a person who has gone through this struggle to still be alive. The ending of the book made me really happy and the fact that he made it through all that he went to. The movie is what inspired me the most to read this book because the ending was in the movie but it just gave you a brief summary of how much money he ended up getting after such a long journey. The fact that the son didn¿t actually know what was going on or what happened at the time until he figured it out on his own as he got older. The one scene in the movie when the little boy dropped his toy so that they could catch the bus on time almost made me cry because just knowing that was basically his one and only toy. So to sum this all up I really would like any and everybody to read this. Trust once you start you don¿t want to put the book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2007

    A little too graphic

    The tale of how Mr. Gardner made his way from rags to riches is an inspriational one. However, I could have done without the descriptions of his sex life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2007

    What an inspiration!

    This is such a powerful story of a man's struggle to become the success he is today. Mr. Gardner didn't have an easy life and had issues that could have easily lead him down the wrong path. He shows us all that hard work and determination pays off.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2007

    Too much sex, too little on goal

    The story was very interesting on how he got from poverty to success. However, I did not feel I needed to know so much about his sexual encounters and lusts. It made me lose respect for this man however incredible his success has been. Don't we know enough about sex already! I got rid of the book before my teenagers could read it, too graphic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2007

    Great Book, Too Much Profanity & Sex

    I would have given this book 5 stars were it not for the profanity and somewhat explicit sexual content. I am glad that Mr. Gardner let us see him with both feet on the ground, as one who could make some really dumb decisions in life, and yet continue to persevere to achieve his dream - learning every step of the way. I only wish he would release a version suitable for the 6 to 17 year age group. I manage a real estate sales team, and am keeping a couple of copies in my lending library for the agents.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2007

    Very Inspirational

    If their was ever a book, that could inspire someone to become success in whatever it is that they wanted to do, this is the book. It is our perserverance that makes us who we are, and it is The Pursuit of Happiness (not Happyness,LOL)that we each strive for in this world. You dont have to be rich to be success, it's doing what you love, to the best of your ability and beyond. I can say, that this book has opened my eyes and I can now see that any one can become and do what they dream to be.....it's out there, all we have to do is grab it and never let go.... Dave

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2007

    Not like the movie!

    I was a bit disappointed with the amount of the content that contained explitives. Although the story contains an inspiring message, it was frustrating to wade through the many curse words, sexual content, and incredibly bad decisions that Chris Gardner made in order to find the story about the man who picked himself up by his boot straps. I'm not sure it was worth it.

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