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Old Men Who Kept Going

Written by Gary North on February 11, 2017

I see no reason to retire. I agree with Ray Charles. He was interviewed by a young reporter. “Do you plan to retire?” the man asked. Charles answered with a question: “And do what?”

Of all the old men in my field who kept going, the master was Jacques Barzun. In 2000, Harper/Collins published his magnum opus: From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: 1500 to the Present. It is 840 pages, plus a 49-page index. It is coherent. It is comprehensive. It is filled with unique insights. He was 92 when it was published. He died a few weeks before he turned 104.

His first book was 1927 Samplings and Chronicles: Being the Continuation of the Philolexian Society History, with Literary Selections From 1912 to 1927 (editor). Then came The French Race: Theories of Its Origins and Their Social and Political Implications (1932), Race: A Study in Modern Superstition (1937), and Of Human Freedom, (1939). Then came the book that established his reputation: Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage (1941). That was 59 years before From Dawn to Decadence.

R. H. Coase won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1991. He wrote his first major article, “The Nature of the Firm,” in 1937. He co-authored his final book at the age of 101: How China Became Capitalist (2012). He died in 2013.

Ludwig von Mises retired from teaching in 1966. He was 85 years old.

F. A. Hayek finished the manuscript for The Fatal Conceit when he was 86. I interviewed him that summer: 1985.

Peter Drucker was known as the father of modern management theory. His first book was The End of Economic Man (1939). He died at the age of 95 in 2005. His final book was The Five Most Important Questions (2008).

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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