Journalism & Publishing
The Time of Our Lives.
By Peggy Noonan.
Nov. 2015. 431p. Twelve, $30 (9781455563111); e-book
Conventional wisdom assigns most ambitious women to a place on the political left.
So how, then, has Noonan carved out a remarkably successful career as a journalist,
and author on the political right? In this impressive
collection of speeches and
readers hear the convention-defying voice that has made
Noonan a national presence
as an exponent of conservatism. Readers hear that distinctive voice
in, for instance, an elegiac reflection on the
exceptional normalcy and fair-mindedness
of fellow journalist Tim Russert, in an acerbic indictment of President Obama for not
joining with other world leaders in a show
of solidarity after the Charlie Hebdo killings,
and in a hopeful prediction of the difference
Pope Francis will make for Catholicism. Addressing other topics—including 9/11, the
Iraq War, Obamacare, illegal immigration,
the machinations of both Clintons, and internecine war in the Republican Party—that
voice varies considerably in tone yet develops a coherent perspective of sober concern
about the trajectory of American culture
and politics. But readers may value most the
exceptionally candid and capacious introduction, in which Noonan reflects on her
childhood, her maturation as a journalist,
and her philosophy as a professional writer.
A refreshingly spontaneous and engaging
collection. —Bryce Christensen
Philosophy & Psychology
The Geography of Genius: A Search for
the World’s Most Creative Places, from
Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley.
By Eric Weiner.
Jan. 2016. Simon & Schuster, $26.95 (9781451691658);
e-book (9781451691689). 153.9.
In this follow-up of sorts to his best-seller
The Geography of Bliss (2008), Weiner explores the concept of the creative golden age,
attempting to get to the heart of why certain
places produce clusters of geniuses. A former
foreign correspondent for NPR, Weiner sets
up his exploration as a travelogue, devoting each chapter to a trip through a place
where geniuses once thrived (Athens, Hang-zhou, Florence, Calcutta, Vienna) as well as
present-day Silicon Valley. Weiner is an affable tour guide and a lively, witty writer in
the style of Bill Bryson; the connections he
makes between places of genius are sharp and
sometime unexpected. Though the characters
he encounters are engaging and entertaining,
they occasionally seem a bit too convenient,
Quinn is one of the country’s leading com- mentators on finance, a looked-to and highly regarded columnist who addresses
such important money concerns as health insurance, social security, and retirement plans. She is
also the author of the classic personal financial
planning guide, Making the Most of Your Money
Now, an all-encompassing bible that was revised
in 2009 to reflect updated financial situations.
Baby boomers are retiring in force, and her latest
book targets the concerns of both recent and future retirees with volley after help-
ful volley of information (in a consummately well-ordered presentation) necessary
for a retirement that affords psychological as well as financial comfort.
The psychological component of facing retirement is not to be downplayed, and
Quinn should be applauded for her recognition of the necessity of developing the
most suitable mind-set for the soon-to-be and recent retiree who faces the inevitable
question, “After decades of working we’re finally free—but free to do what?” As
frank and bold as it sounds, she insists these folks must face this truth: “We have
to reinvent our lives.” The meat of her book, then, is guiding readers into making
two plans, an “action” plan to move from a working life to a nonworking one and
a financial plan for maximum utilization of the income and savings you will have
at your disposal in your retirement. Importantly, she creates a list of—with ample
descriptions for each—the five stages of retirement: preretirement, the honeymoon,
disenchantment, reorientation, and stability.
Big-ticket chapters follow and include comprehensive coverage of getting the most
out of Social Security, how to live within your retirement means, the danger of post-retirement income investments, and money that can be garnered from life insurance
even while you’re still alive. Her clarity of prose is matched with a generosity of
spirit, and all of the information is graciously laced with a noncondescending tone
that renders this book as absolutely helpful as the author intended.
Retire to What?
As baby boomers realize that love
may not be all you need, at least to
retire, a savvy financial guru comes
to their aid.
BY BRAD HOOPER
How to Make Your
Money Last: The
By Jane Bryant Quinn.
Jan. 2016. 368p. Simon & Schuster,
$28 (9781476743769); e-book