Mr. Von Drehle is a gifted writer ... The Book of Charlie made me nostalgic for a simpler and tougher America ... A minor complaint. Mr. Von Drehle tries rather too hard, in my view, to explain Charlie’s resilience by recourse to the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. Allusions to Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus punctuate the book. But Charlie himself says nothing about this dour philosophy, and it seems obvious to me that his character was formed by that other ancient creed: Christianity ... An original and highly readable account of a splendid American life.
A splendidly woven, inspirational memoir that explores the meaning of life and the resilience of the human spirit ... Charlie made an art out of living; in much the same way, Von Drehle--with eloquence, care, respect, and admiration--makes art out of Charlie's life story ... This deeply engaging personal portrait of a remarkable centenarian also offers an absorbing account of the inventiveness of U.S. citizens--and the U.S., as it continually strives to evolve and improve.
In a well-researched and often poignant narrative, the author rarely interrogates White’s privilege; maintains his subject’s insensitive language without comments; and quotes from thinkers like Theodore Roosevelt and Rudyard Kipling but never women or people of color. Despite the nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout the text, these choices make it feel outdated.