Pauline Friedman Phillips

Ann Landers -- between hard covers

When Eppie Lederer died June 22, 2002, she took "Ann Landers" with her. The legendary advice columnist had years earlier asked her only child, a journalist herself, if she would continue the column, and Margo Howard had declined.

"I didn't want to work that hard," she confesses in A Life in Letters: Ann Landers' Letters to Her Only Child (Warner Books, 416 pages, $22).

So, the name "Ann Landers," which Landers owned, was retired at her death, and, as was the case with Erma Bombeck, more than a byline is gone. An era has passed.

Advice has a long and colorful history, dating, its practitioners like to say, to the Old Testament and its many...