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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Never Too Late: A 90-Year-Old's Pursuit of a Whirlwind Life » User review

It needed to decide what it wanted to be... self-help or memoir...

  • Aug 23, 2011
When I picked up Never Too Late: A 90-Year-Old's Pursuit of a Whirlwind Life by Roy Rowan at the library, I was intrigued. Here we have a 90-year-old guy who has been all over the world as a reporter, covering many critical moments in world history and interviewing the leaders who were part of them. It sounded as if he had learned how to live life to the fullest regardless of age, and was going to share those insights with the reader. And he does that... for about half the book. It then morphs into more of a memoir of his adventures in the field. Interesting, to be sure... but was it really what the book set out to be? I don't think so...

Who Says You Have to Grow Old Gracefully!; How Old is Old?; Quit Is a Four-Letter Word; R Is for Resilience; Sunny Side Up; Tuned to the Immune System; You and the Eureka Factor; Stay in Touch; Seeking Solitude; Looking Back; Looking Ahead; Recycling the Past; Reliving the Dream; Finally, a Feeling of Closure; Cruising into the Nineties; Acknowledgments; About the Author

Rowan has, without question, led a fascinating life. While covering wars and world leaders for Time, Life, and Fortune magazines, he was able to experience more than most of us would see and do in five lifetimes. And as he headed into his 60's, 70's, and beyond, he certainly didn't retire to the porch swing to watch life flow by. He still travels, exercises, and writes on a regular basis, even though he's into his 90's now. Add in the fact that he beat cancer once and lives with a form of bone cancer that's controlled through medication, and he definitely doesn't fit the normal image of "old age." I'd be happy to do what he does right now, and I'm only 50!

Through the chapter titled "You and the Eureka Factor," he shares his thoughts and insights on how you can still live a full and active life long past the time most people decide to slow down (or die). Given that's the angle of the book I was expecting based on the flyleaf, I thought it was good material. But from "Stay in Touch" through the end of the book, the whole tone and flavor of the book changes. There was far less advice and much more reminiscing about past and current adventures. Yes, the stories were interesting, but it was almost as if he wrote two different books of around 100 pages each, and then decided to put them into a single volume because they were otherwise too short to publish as stand-alone books. Either that, or he and the publisher couldn't quite figure out what the book should be... a personal improvement book or a look back at his life in publishing. By trying to do both, I think they failed to do either as well as they could have.

Given I know more about Rowen's life now, I'd be somewhat interested in picking up some of his other books. I have no doubt his first-hand accounts and analysis of the war in China or the Vietnam conflict would be well worth reading. But I have a hard time recommending Never Too Late as the two directions it goes are not necessarily paths that run close enough for a reader to remain focused on both.

Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

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Thomas Duff ()
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Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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“Only Roy Rowan could have written this book: part world tour, part excursion into the human body. From war zones to political conventions, from baseball to anti-inflammatories, from Mao to Mark Twain, this is the stuff of life, and a how-to guide to growing older . . . in great fashion!”

            —Brian Williams, NBC News


“Roy Rowan is not exactly like you and me: he fought in one war and covered three others, palled around with Presidents, ran the New York marathon, and survived three cancers. But out of all these adventures and crises, he has written a book that is marvelously beneficial to every one of us on the far side of middle age. Do not go gentle, he insists, but live with the three E’s, Enthusiasm, Exertion, and Energy. If you do, Scouts Honor, you’ll move up the alphabet to wonder years of Pride, Productivity, and Passion.”

            —Richard B. Stolley, founding editor People magazine and senior editorial adviser, Time Inc.


“Want to learn how to age gracefully and have a great retirement? Then this is NOT the book for you! Roy Rowan, a great journalist, offers instead delightful tales and lessons about having a feisty and active old age. It’s both a charming memoir and a fountain of insight for anyone who plans to live until at least


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ISBN-10: 0762763760
ISBN-13: 978-0762763764
Publisher: Lyons Press

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