PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... [an] absorbing story ... While Immortality, Inc. is focused on aging and the efforts to defy it, the book is also a gripping chronicle of private-sector experimentation and ingenuity in the face of inertia in Washington ... Ponce de León would have been impressed.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal[Norwich, Vermont] has produced 11 Olympians, all but one since 1984. Such an achievement takes on renewed interest with the Winter Olympics kicking off next week, and it’s at the center of Norwich, Karen Crouse’s splendid portrait of the town and its Olympian performance ... Ms. Crouse says that sports success is a byproduct of how Norwich 'collectively rears its children, helping them succeed without causing burnout or compromising their future happiness' ... [Crouse] is also a gifted storyteller and willing to do the legwork that is needed to collect material. To capture the mystique of Norwich, she didn’t drop in occasionally — she lived there for five months. As a result, her account is imbued with local color and detail ... But Ms. Crouse’s message applies beyond a particular town or state: Rather than micromanage their children, parents should 'act as their guides to charity, well-roundedness, curiosity, perspective, and a healthy life anchored by physical activity.'
MixedThe Wall Street JournalMr. Taplin proposes some thought-provoking solutions to the challenge of getting people to pay for content...Whatever one thinks of these ideas, Mr. Taplin’s broader explanation of the upheaval in the music and media industries is illuminating. But he is so incensed by Facebook, Google and Amazon that he never considers the benefits that platforms deliver ... Mr. Taplin wages a prolonged attack on the 'libertarian' ethos that he says underpins technology firms. But 'libertarian' is the wrong label. These companies are often closely tied to government and are far from bastions of free-market purity ... Blaming the woes of content providers on a vast right-wing conspiracy will appeal to certain readers, but Mr. Taplin would have been on firmer ground had he left politics aside.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Cowen is well-known for his free-market outlook. But The Complacent Class is refreshingly nonideological, filled with observations—e.g., the fact that a rising share of the federal budget is on autopilot—that will resonate with conservatives, liberals and libertarians ... Given Mr. Cowen’s own innovative thinking, it’s disappointing that he does not focus more on potential remedies to the torpor he describes. Instead, he puts forward a cursory set of ideas (he labels them 'deliberately speculative') for reviving American dynamism over the next two decades ... The Complacent Class is a useful corrective to the conventional wisdom that American ingenuity, sooner or later, will revive a low-growth economy.
PanThe Wall Street JournalThe 'Big Dig' was a reminder that infrastructure projects can be messy—and budget-busting—undertakings. But it is more common (if less salacious) for the building of roads, bridges, ports and dams to spur economic development. To ignore this dimension of Bechtel’s work and to zero in on the company’s alleged cronyism are among the many shortcomings of The Profiteers a missed opportunity the size of the Hoover Dam.