At a time of rapid change and upheaval in the United States, this short and engaging memoir by one of the most accomplished Americans of the last half century stands as a testament to the insights that a long life can provide. Shultz, now 96, served as President Richard Nixon’s secretary of labor, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and treasury secretary, and later served as secretary of state in the Reagan administration. In his book, he distills the basic lessons he learned during his decades in public service and in his private life and applies them to some of today’s challenges. Simple as his insights sound—always be learning, never compromise your basic principles just to keep a job, and so on—they are often profound and provocative. Surveying the troubled condition of the United States today, Shultz strikes a reassuringly hopeful note. “I remain a genuine optimist,” he writes in the final chapter, “even though we are surrounded by difficult problems and are not at the top of our game.” As the United States steps uncertainly into the Trump era, Shultz’s wisdom and counsel are more valuable, and more badly needed, than ever.
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