Synopses & Reviews
Now in paperback from New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen, a “lively, well-researched chronicle” (The New York Times Book Review) of the concept of middle age, from the nineteenth century to the present.
For the first time ever, the middle-aged make up the biggest, richest, and most influential segment of the country—yet the history of middle age has remained largely untold. This important and immensely readable book finally fills the gap.
In Our Prime is a “lucid, straightforward and conversational…a thorough—and thoroughly fascinating—cultural history of aging” (Chicago Tribune) from its invention in the late nineteenth century to its current place at the center of American society, where it shapes the way we view our families, our professional obligations, and our inner lives. Patricia Cohen ranges over the entire landscape of midlife, exploring how its biological, psychological, and social definitions have shifted from one generation to the next. Middle age has been a symbol both of decline and of power and wealth. Explaining why, Cohen takes readers from early-twentieth-century factories that refused to hire middle-aged workers to twenty-first-century high-tech laboratories where researchers are currently conducting cutting-edge experiments on the middle-aged brain and body.
Her book is fascinating, revelatory, and timely.
“A lively, well-researched chronicle of the social and scientific forces that brought midlife America to its current befuddled state…”—Laura Shapiro, New York Times Book Review
“A brilliant, wide-ranging book…Cohen’s lively prose and thoughtful insights make this a joy to read.”—Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe
“In Our Prime is a fascinating study of this complex stage of life, a book whose appeal is likely to extend beyond the middle-age demographic to readers approaching or looking back on that key stage of life.”—Jerry Harkavy, Associated Press
“Very fine…lucid, straightforward and conversational… a thorough—and thoroughly fascinating—cultural history of aging.”—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
“With lively writing, astute observations, and extensive research, this cultural history looks well beyond cougars and Botox.”—Karen Holt, Oprah.com
“A thoroughly engaging cultural history…”—Christine Sismondo, Toronto Star
“In Our Prime is a fascinating biography of the ‘idea of middle age’ in American society…Comprehensively researched…A thoughtful inquiry.”—Tom Lavoie, Shelf Awareness
“A fascinating biography of the idea of middle age…solidly researched.”—Gail Sheehy, The New York Times
“A comprehensive look at middle age through the eyes of scientists, historians, psychologists, medical doctors, marketers and many more.”—Julie Carl, Winnipeg Free Press
“Witty and engaging…this comprehensive and entertaining social history highlights the possibilities of the middle years—and shows how middle age reflects the attitudes and customs of each generation that passes through it.”—Publishers Weekly
The director behind the Hollywood close-up and the inventor of the “midlife crisis,” the doctors who promised to restore men’s sexual vigor with monkey gland transplants and the neuroscientists mapping the middle-aged brain, the fashion designers and the feminists: They are all part of the fascinating parade of businessmen, entertainers, scientists, and hucksters who have shaped our understanding and experience of middle age.
Midlife has swung between serving as a symbol of power and influence and a metaphor for decline, yet the invention and history of this vital period of life have never before been fully told. Acclaimed New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen finally fills the gap with a book that provokes surprise, outrage, and delight. In Our Prime takes readers from turn-of-the-century factories that refused to hire middle-aged men to high-tech laboratories where researchers are unraveling the secrets of the middle-aged mind and body. She traces how midlife has been depicted in film, television, advertisements, and literature. Cohen exposes the myths of the midlife crisis and empty-nest syndrome and investigates antiaging treatments such as human growth hormones, estrogen, Viagra, Botox, and plastic surgery.
Exhilarating and empowering, In Our Prime will compel readers to reexamine a topic they think they already know.
About the Author
Patricia Cohen has been a New York Times reporter for thirteen years. She has also worked at The Washington Post, New York Newsday, and Rolling Stone. She has a BA from Cornell University and a graduate degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.