50 Years of Christmas Letters: The Life and Times of a Lucky Man

2021 FAPA President’s Book Awards: Silver: Humor

It’s 1971. American Jack Pendray and his family—wife, Linda, and first son, Michael—live outside Paris, where Jack has just begun his career in what is widely thought to be an up-and-coming field: computers. Each year, from 1971 on, as regular as clockwork, Jack will pen a sometimes hilarious “Christmas letter” to family and friends, charting his family’s growth and development while discussing his professional doings in Europe, Australia, and the States. A University of Florida Sigma Nu and early graduate of Stanford University’s nascent computer science program, Jack tells tales of family triumphs and challenges, his stint as a junior Air Force officer at the Pentagon, the back-and-forth between consulting and teaching, and a lifetime of warm friendships, many forged in his happy high school days at Coral Gables High as a member of the Ching Tang fraternity.Always good-humored, always kind—50 Years of Christmas Letters: The Life and Times of a Lucky Man is the story of a son, brother, and father coming of age at a time when America sent its sons to far-flung parts of the world to wrestle with and conquer emerging technologies. A member of the “Lucky Generation”—a phrase sociologists use to describe the generation between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers—Jack is the first to acknowledge the role that “luck,” coupled with a generous dollop of plain old hard work, played in his life and in his success.

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