• One of the things that got me on this topic for this book was that when I was researching the column I wrote in 2009 saying that I was stepping down from my column at "Newsweek" because I wanted to make room for newer, fresh voices out there, I discovered that in the year I was born, 1952, the average life expectancy of an American was 68. I was shocked by that figure and every time I mention it I hear a gasp from somebody in the crowd. Now, of course, we're more or less at 80, so that means that we've gotten 12 additional years.