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The Art of Aging

New or Used: $9.42
New or Used: $9.42

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About the Author

A clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, Sherwin B. Nuland is the author of numerous books including How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter, which won the National Book Award; Lost in America: A Journey with My Father; Maimonides; and Leonardo da Vinci. He lives in Hamden, Connecticut.

From the Hardcover edition.


The septuagenarian surgeon whose brutally honest demythologization of death in How We Die garnered a National Book Award offers a mushier, platitude-filled treatise on aging, calling it a "gift" that establishes boundaries in our lives, making everything within those boundaries all the more precious. Brief, frank descriptions of droopy penises, declining hormone levels and loss of hearing and bone density are accompanied by reminders that stroke is not a normal consequence of aging and that our bodies are like cars and taking good care of parts extends their usefulness. A gushing tribute to pioneering cardiac surgeon Michael DeBakey, now aged 98, teaches the importance of knowing one's limitations and learning to function within them, while now-80-year-old actress Patricia Neal recalls how sheer stubbornness and a browbeating husband enabled her recovery from a debilitating stroke at 39. Nuland learned life lessons from two fans, a cancer survivor who understands that it's her response to adversity, and not the adversity itself, that shapes her future, and a formerly depressed octogenarian who now doesn't allow herself the "luxury" of despair. Although some of Nuland's devotees will be comforted by his hopeful if familiar advice, others seeking more of the bracing, defiant insights that made him famous will be disappointed. (Mar. 6) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Americans are living longer but not necessarily better lives. Late life is often filled with pain as well as physical and mental disability, much of which, argues National Book Award winner Nuland (surgery, Yale Univ.; How We Die), is a result of the "current biomedical campaign against the natural process of aging." Aging itself is not a disease but an important risk factor for many debilitating disorders of old age, he asserts. In an informal study of older adults, the author, now 77, observed individuals (himself included) who live active, fulfilling lives often despite serious health challenges or extreme age. He identifies three key practices for a rewarding late life (which he applies to his own life): developing satisfying personal relationships, maintaining physical abilities, and being creative. The book also casts a critical eye on life-extension research, suggesting that work on preserving physical and mental function as long as possible is far more valuable. "We must study how to be old," Nuland writes. This literate, thoughtful book-an excellent "textbook" for successful aging-is highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/06.]-Karen McNally Bensing, Benjamin Rose Inst. Lib., Cleveland Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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