Meet the Author - William J. Kole

Event date: 
Saturday, October 14, 2023 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
471 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02906

Bill Kole Author Event

Join us on Saturday, October 14th at 7:00 p.m. for a reading and discussion with William J. Kole, author of The Big 100.

The Big 100: The New World of Super-Aging by William J. Kole

“More and more people are living for 100 years—or longer. William J. Kole uses his knowledge and personal experiences to suggest how we can use these bonus years to best advantage, for ourselves and others. With beautiful prose and a sense of fun, The Big 100 is stimulating and inspiring. You should definitely read it."—Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

Journalist William J. Kole, reluctant but newly minted member of AARP, explores the looming era of super-aging—incredibly longer lifespans overall, and eight times more centenarians by the year 2050—through the lens of past, present, and future life at ages 50, 65, 80, and on to 100-plus. What happens to all of us when 65 is merely a life half-lived?

By 2050, the world’s centenarian population—those aged 100 or more—will increase eightfold. Half of today’s 5-year-olds can expect to reach the same heights. It’s going to upend everything we thought we knew about health care, personal finance, retirement, politics, and more. Whether we’re 18 or 81, this tectonic demographic shift will affect us all. 

The Big 100 confronts readers with both the brightness and potential bleakness of a fate few of us thought possible. Journalist William Kole guides us on this journey into our future, an optimistic but sometimes fraught exploration of super-aging as the grandson of a centenarian. 

Along the way, there are expert sources, like Dr. Jane Goodall, longevity expert Dr. Thomas Perls, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and even 101-year-old influencer and fashionista Iris Apfel; along with surprises, including the truth about those so-called “Blue Zones” everyone thinks are centenarian factories. (Spoiler alert: They’re not.) And there’s the troubling truth that those reaching extreme longevity tend to be overwhelmingly white, a product of what experts deem the “weathering theory”: the idea that the health of African Americans begins to deteriorate in early adulthood as a physical consequence of socio-economic disadvantages. 

How long can we live? How long should we live? And what happens when 65 is merely a life half-lived? The Big 100 explores the most pressing questions of our super-aging future, and offers a glimpse of a reality that awaits us, our children, and our grandchildren.

William J. Kole, recently retired as the New England news editor for Associated Press, is a veteran journalist and former foreign correspondent who has reported from North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The grandson of a woman who lived a few months shy of 104, Kole has been writing about extreme longevity since the 1990s, when he was based in Paris and told the world the extraordinary story of Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122. His many awards include one from the Society of American Business Editors & Writers for an investigation into the exploitation of undocumented immigrants by the Walmart retail chain. This is his first book. He speaks French, Dutch, and German, and resides in Warwick, Rhode Island.