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The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the…
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The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man (edition 2023)

by David Von Drehle (Author)

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1567176,370 (4.02)1
A veteran Washington journalist recounts his long friendship with Charlie White, the centenarian next door who, sharing his good and meaningful life, mastered survival strategies that reflect thousands of years of human wisdom as his sense of adventure guided him through a century of upheaval.
Member:Brazgo67
Title:The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man
Authors:David Von Drehle (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2023), 208 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:to-read

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The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man by David von Drehle

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Two stars - it was OK. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I expected. It felt like a “bait and switch.” Yes, it’s the story of Charlie White’s life as told by Charlie to author David Von Drehle. But David included his own perspective into this less-than-200-page book. In addition to Charlie’s anecdotes and reminiscences, which he selected and polished and told through the lens of time, David adds his own conjectures of what probably happened, what Charlie must have meant, and even does research to find out how accurate some of the stories are. I felt that this was invasive and disrespectful of Charlie’s trust and confidences.

What I did like was how David included historical background and information that helped put Charlie’s experiences in perspective. For instance, Charlie went to medical school and became a doctor before the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics, during the early days of anesthesia, before open heart surgery, etc. Amplifying Charlie’s experience with David’s explanations of medical procedures and treatment from the early 1900s until after World War II made me realize that until the 1950s the US often had no better treatment to offer than a third world country. While this was interesting, sometimes David’s historical background and research got off track and was less about Charlie and more about what interested David.

I had the feeling while reading that David considered Charlie as a resource, someone he could capitalize on as the subject of a book. Above all else, regardless of how David spun the story, it seems that Charlie’s biggest accomplishment was living to 109 years old.

Our 10-member book club read this and had lots of opinions. Not everyone liked the book, or the author, but we all had plenty to discuss without even referring to the discussion questions. (A first).

If you are considering reading this book, just be aware there is less of Charlie in this book than there is of author David Von Drehle. For every bit of “wisdom” shared by Charlie, there are David’s speculations and assumptions. ( )
  PhyllisReads | May 17, 2024 |
A truly remarkable story about a man who lived through the majority of the 20th Century. Born in middle America, Charlie traveled to LA, attended Northwestern University, became a doctor, and served in the war. He was also married several times.
I found this story to be fascinating, esp. with all the unique things that Charlie did. Very enjoyable story about this remarkable man.
Lesson to all - speak to your elders and learn their story. They are fascinating!!! Cherish those that have gone before us and paved the way. ( )
  rmarcin | Dec 15, 2023 |
When David Von Drehle moves into his new home in Kansas City, he encountrs a man across the street, dressed only in his swimming trunks, washing his girlfriend's car. The neighbor, Charlie White, was at the time 102. The author and Charlie sat down on numerous occasions and chatted about Charlie's long life (he eventually lived to 109). Von Drahle recognized characteristics in Charlie that produced an incredible resilience, and decided to write up Charlie's story, in part as a way of imparting some wisdom to his children.

This is not a biography or a memoir, but a retelling of incidents in Charlie's life, beginning with the death of his father when Charlie was 8, that formed the man. Von Drehle spend a bit of time fleshing out the circumstances of life in Kansas City (and beyond) that adds perspective to Charlie's story. The book is categorized as 'Self-Help', which is interesting, but not far off. Charlie did indeed live a remarkable life, and it was worth telling.

My own grandmother was born in 1900 and lived to 2001, so I tried to imagine what her life would have been like during this similar time span. There is so much to be gained from talks with the elderly - I'm glad Von Drehle thought to spend some time with Charlie. ( )
  peggybr | Jun 21, 2023 |
I listened to the Audible.com audio version of “The Book of Charlie.” I enjoyed the book about the 109-year-old doctor and his friendship with the author. Von Drehle was on CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend, so it was nice to see that segment when I was reading his book. My only criticism of the audio book is Von Drehle’s narration. I think he should have turned those duties over to a professional reader. ( )
  FormerEnglishTeacher | Jun 16, 2023 |
I really enjoyed this book about the life of a 109-year-old man who lived across the street from the author. The author throws some some really interesting historical tidbits. ( )
  DrApple | Jun 7, 2023 |
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A veteran Washington journalist recounts his long friendship with Charlie White, the centenarian next door who, sharing his good and meaningful life, mastered survival strategies that reflect thousands of years of human wisdom as his sense of adventure guided him through a century of upheaval.

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