Roxanne reviews The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man by David Von Drehle.
The new biography by Washington Post journalist David Von Drehle was an organic idea from Von Drehle's meeting his 102 year old neighbor as the latter washed his car one morning.
Von Drehle's study of Charlie White’s life focuses on how a man makes it to such an age with all his faculties and physical capacities still in place. In Charlie’s case, many of the anecdotes over his life span focus on his lens of seeing life’s challenges through a lens of comedy, joy and/or daring.
Not only does the reader receive a beautifully told life story, Von Drehle, being a true reporter, gives us interesting facts about each time period of Charlie’s life, from the miraculous introduction of Ford’s Model T, to radio, to modern medicine.
Besides his optimistic outlook, Charlie also possessed the internal fortitude to take action rather than accept defeat (though Von Drehle also chalks Charlie’s pragmatism up to his mother’s caring moral compass).
A sub-story that might be of interest to Sarasotans is the curating of some of the early Chautauqua programming completed by Charlie’s minister father.
Best of all, this book is appropriate for seasoned readers to middle schoolers as The Book of Charlie looks back at less complicated times, yet gives great timeless advice for those of us still in the work world.