Mature authors share their wisdom with us
Septuagenarian and octogenarian authors predictably pen autobiographies. Others write about their fields of expertise. Enjoy the wisdom and wit that comes with age in the pages of these books.
Live Long and…What I Learned Along the Way, by William Shatner with David Fisher, 224 pages, Thomas Dunne Books hardcover, 2018
Actor William Shatner, now 87, has written an upbeat, positive book on aging well. While sharing stories of his own long life and prolific career, “Captain Kirk” touches on the importance of passion, work, tenacity and fearlessness in enriching his own life.
His show biz reminiscences are quite entertaining, recounting his lucky breaks, one-man shows, acting in the legitimate theater — including Shakespearean roles — and his stints in successful television series.
He draws life lessons that he shares with gusto and flourish. His enthusiasm permeates his prose.
Shatner touches upon his past mistakes, but more importantly, shows that learning and working should never subside as one ages. Longevity demands, as he describes it, creating a full life and continuing to give purpose to each day.
Live Long is inspiring and thought provoking. Shatner’s words pour forth with warmth and intimacy, taking us into his confidence and leaving us all the wiser for having connected.
Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life, by Michael Caine, 288 pages, Hachette Books hardcover, 2018
The two-time Oscar Award-winning actor has penned a refreshing and straightforward book about reaching the peak of his chosen profession, while looking back at his rise from abject poverty in Great Britain.
While Michael Caine offers wise words of advice for young aspiring actors, his words of encouragement will inspire anyone thinking of embarking on a new career, or older adults who resist fading away into a life of pure leisure.
He informs us that it was his friend Jack Nicholson who prodded him out of a short-lived retirement about 25 years ago. And he has continued to act ever since.
A broken ankle from a fall in early 2018 on an icy garden path did not slow him down. While recovering in his wheelchair, this irrepressible thespian wrote Blowing the Bloody Doors Off.
The title is a reference to a line of dialogue in the 1969 movie The Italian Job, which has been voted by British movie fans their favorite cinema one-liner. Caine’s character Charlie Croker cries, “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off” as a fellow crook destroys a van by blowing it up.
Don’t go overboard, don’t be a scene-stealer, work hard, be prepared, be kind to others, find the positive in all that has transpired including failure, and persevere — a few of the inspiring ideas this upbeat book expounds and illustrates. And never stop working!
American Dialogue: The Founders and Us, by Joseph J. Ellis, 304 pages, Knopf hardcover, 2018; 448 pages, Random House Large Print paperback, 2018
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis has written an engaging book. The author, in his mid-70s, has distilled for us his extensive knowledge of America’s past, honed during decades of teaching at Mount Holyoke College.
Ellis brings forward to our own day issues that emerged at the inception of our nation and were addressed by the Founding Fathers.
He employs the perspective of time — and the words of our revolutionary forebears — to examine four pivotal issues: race relations, income inequality, applying the Constitution in subsequent generations, and the principles that should guide our foreign policy.
The writings of Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Washington are brought to life. Ellis reprises a short, but incisive, narrative of American history. He addresses the hopes, aspirations and mistaken ideas of these four founders.
He describes their missed opportunities — which have haunted their progeny — the hypocrisies as well as the profound good judgement of the leaders of the generation that fought for independence and established our republic.
Reading American Dialogue is akin to attending an advanced college seminar. The knowledgeable progressive-leaning instructor imparts his scholarly ideas in an intellectually stimulating way.
On Grand Strategy, by John Lewis Gaddis, 384 pages, Penguin Press hardcover, 2018 (paperback April 2, 2019)
John Lewis Gaddis has written an important book in which he summarizes the “Grand Strategy” course he co-teaches at Yale.
Gaddis analyzes the qualities of great military and political leaders — historical figures who attempted to guide their nations to victory, expansionism or world hegemony. Xerxes, Pericles, Octavian, Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Lincoln, Wilson and FDR are some of the iconic figures he dissects.
Even Steven Spielberg’s cinematic portrayal of the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment is included in Gaddis’ hypothesis.
Grand Strategy reprises the pivotal decisions made in places and times as diverse as ancient Persia, Greece, classical Rome, the Napoleonic era, our own Revolution and Civil War, Europe of World War II and America in the Cold War.
The septuagenarian Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar shares the wisdom he has accumulated over the decades, and expresses his ideas with clarity and great insight.
Reading this book may spark — or reignite — an interest in the study of the history of the world’s civilizations and the political ideologies of their iconic leaders. Most definitely a worthy pursuit.