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In Our Prime

The Invention of Middle Age

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

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.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 10, 2011 –  Those between the ages of 40 and 64 make up one-third of the U.S. population and control almost 70% of its net worth, making them the largest, wealthiest, and most influential segment of the country. Yet, as Cohen, a cultural reporter for the New York Times, shows, the idea of middle age is a relatively recent concept that emerged during America s industrialization and urbanization; migrations to cities resulted in age- and occupation-related not familiar groupings. Tracing the invention of middle age alongside technological and scientific breakthroughs, this witty and engaging study synthesizes history, psychology, and the latest scientific research on the middle-aged brain. Cohen looks at the industries that have sprouted to understand and market to this cohort the current ad campaigns and TV shows targeting the alpha boomers, who collectively spend more than $1.8 trillion annually and how the new group has changed society, through readings of Carl Jung and Erik Erickson, whose work recognized middle age as a critical period of human life; the evolving attitudes toward middle-aged women; and the forces of self-improvement and mass consumption hormone therapies, anti-aging drugs, plastic surgery that contribute to the Midlife Industrial Complex. 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.
In Our Prime
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Sociology
  • Published: Jan 10, 2012
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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