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Holding Court: Charles Wheelan ’88

Wheelan photoHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

To kick off the fall term, we hear from economist Charles "Charlie" Wheelan, Class of 1988, Senior Lecturer and Policy Fellow at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy.  Wheelan, former correspondent for The Economistis the author of the "Naked" series: Naked Economics (W.W. Norton, 2002), Naked Statistics (W.W. Norton, 2013), and the latest, Naked Money (W.W. Norton, 2016).  What advice does the prolific writer offer those who get stuck?  To power through the early drafts.

What is your book about?

It describes what "money" is and why it matters. In the process, I try to explain the broader global financial system.

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

Money is such a strange phenomenon. (That $100 bill in your wallet is just a piece of paper.) Yet finance has a huge impact on all of our lives, as we learned during the 2007/2008 financial crisis. I wanted to explore and demystify all this.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

Most of my work is applied. I take other people's ideas and make them more accessible. I'm also the founder of Unite America, which is an effort to re-empower the political middle by electing independents.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

I'm hoping that libraries will always be physical spaces, as well as repositories of information. They should be a place where we share important community resources, whether that is computer terminals or just good air-conditioning when it's really hot outside.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

The first draft is always awful. Just power through.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

I've always made time to read for fun, ever since I was a Dartmouth undergrad. I once read War and Peace while hitchhiking in New Zealand. I currently alternate between fiction and nonfiction.


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