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Builder's Apprentice: A Memoir


Product Description

In 1986, Andy Hoffman quit an engineering job, declined acceptances for graduate school at Harvard and Berkeley and accepted a carpenter’s job in Nantucket. Unbeknownst to him, he had entered the world of high-end custom building. Within four years, he was supervising the construction of a 29,000 square-foot mansion on a 180-acre estate in Fairfield County Connecticut. This is a book about his personal and professional growth along that journey, from apprentice to builder through the tutelage of a seasoned and hard-nosed builder. It describes how uniquely high-end homes are built for select clients, a glimpse into the lives of the blue-collar workers, architects, engineers and clients that come together to make these projects a reality. At its core, this is a coming-of-age story, a celebration of the pursuit of creative impulses and a story about defying the “rules” and finding a personal calling in life.

Praise for Builder's Apprentice

...a rich buffet of literary material: a gritty account of the lives of blue-collar workers, an exhilarating glimpse into an elite world, the tension-wrought management of confusing new relationships, and a coming-of-age story.
--ForeWord Reviews

...compelling.  He gets the details right, capturing the sweat, sawdust, and satisfactions of a job site...Hoffman nails the odd cast of characters who inhabit the world of construction...an argument for the road less traveled. --Fine Homebuilding

A shingle, a roof, a house; a word, a book, a life. Hoffman discovered what was worth doing, and that doing it well was what made all the difference.
--Ann Arbor Chronicle

WINNER - 2011 Connecticut Book Award (Biography/Memoirs)

Other Details

Andrew J. Hoffman
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  1. Finding Meaning in Life 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 25th Oct 2018

    Every now and then a book comes along that changes you in some profound way or validates a difficult choice you have made or path that you have chosen. This is one of those books. It is extremely well written. The descriptions appeal to all five senses. You can smell the sawdust, feel the grain of the wood, laugh at the humor and the camraderie of the characters and empathize with the author's various predicaments. The work is totally engaging.

    It's also remarkable in that I found a kinship with author, Andrew Hoffman in terms of being set on a certain path, defying advice and expectations of friends and family, choosing the "road less traveled" and finding my way on my own pursuing what I love. My trajectory has been very similar to the author's, although it took an extra twenty years before I, too, pursued a career in academia. We are close in age with very different experiences, but so many similarities.

    Throughout my various careers, my friends and coworkers and superiors have always applauded the choices I made to pursue what I loved. While not always the most financially rewarding or stable or conventional choices my friends and family chose, my choices have been true to what I wanted to do and experience in the world. With Andy Hoffman's book, I have found another individual who has wrestled with the same issues and chosen a similar path. Thus I have realized I'm not as crazy as I often thought I was. And for others who are just starting out in life, and wondering what to do with themselves out of high school or undergraduate studies, I would recommend that they read this book, consider what they want their life to mean, and take the time to discover what is truly important, and then to pursue it. This really is a profound work that appeals to everyone, I would highly recommend it.

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