Never Say Die (eBook)
Susan Jacoby, an unsparing chronicler of unreason in American culture, now offers an impassioned, tough-minded critique of the myth that a radically new old age—unmarred by physical or mental deterioration, financial problems, or intimate loneliness—awaits the huge baby boom generation. Combining historical, social, and economic analysis with personal experiences of love and loss, Jacoby turns a caustic eye not only on the modern fiction that old age can be “defied” but also on the sentimental image of a past in which Americans supposedly revered their elders.
Never Say Die unmasks the fallacies promoted by twenty-first-century hucksters of longevity—including health gurus claiming that boomers can stay “forever young” if they only live right, self-promoting biomedical businessmen predicting that ninety may soon become the new fifty and that a “cure” for the “disease” of aging is just around the corner, and wishful thinkers asserting that older means wiser.
The author offers powerful evidence that America has always been a “youth culture” and that the plight of the neglected old dates from the early years of the republic. Today, as the oldest boomers turn sixty-five, it is imperative for them to distinguish between marketing hype and realistic hope about what lies ahead for the more than 70 million Americans who will be beyond the traditional retirement age by 2030. This wide-ranging reappraisal examines the explosion of Alzheimer’s cases, the uncertain economic future of aging boomers, the predicament of women who make up an overwhelming majority of the oldest—and poorest—old, and the illusion that we can control the way we age and die.
Jacoby raises the fundamental question of whether living longer is a good thing unless it means living better. Her book speaks to Americans, whatever their age, who draw courage and hope from facing reality instead of embracing that oldest of delusions, the fountain of youth.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Susan Jacoby is the author of nine books, most recently The Age of American Unreason, Alger Hiss and the Battle for History, and Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. She writes The Spirited Atheist blog for On Faith, a website sponsored by The Washington Post. She lives in New York City. For more information, visit www.susanjacoby.com.
Praise for Never Say Die…
“If old age isn’t for sissies, neither is Susan Jacoby’s tough-minded and important book. . . which demolishes popular myths that we can ‘cure’ the ‘disease’ of aging.” —The Washington Post
“For those of us who are old, Susan Jacoby's candor about old age is bracing; for those not yet old, Never Say Die should provide an unsentimental education for the years to come.” –Philip Roth
“Jacoby’s tough-minded refusal to buy the rosy image painted by advertisers and the ‘anti-aging industry’—a greedy crowd that includes bogus health gurus, pill pushers and other medical hucksters—is empowering.” —Time
“Jacoby is sharp and shoots straight.” —The New Yorker
“[A] book that will change the way you think about growing old. . . . In the end, and in ways not recognized at the beginning of the book, Never Say Die is life-affirming.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“Mixes rigorous reportage and tart-tongued criticism with memoir and history, slashing through romanticized versions of the golden years and delivering tough truths.” —Newsday
“Jacoby cuts through the fog of bromides and half-truths enveloping the discussion of aging, shines a light on issues long neglected and offers cogent solutions to pressing problems.” —The Miami Herald
“In this beautifully crafted book, [Jacoby] punctures the promises that aging will eventually be 'cured' either by a wonder drug or though positive thinking. The good news is that if we wake up from our delusions we may be better able to grow old with dignity.” –Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
“Jacoby’s book, which mixes the intellectual and the emotional, academic studies and personal anecdotes, is intentionally contentious. . .That is just as it should be. Jacoby does not want to serve as a destroyer of hope. Thank goodness, however, that she is willing to be perceived as a destroyer of false hope.” —Seattle Times
“Lively, carefully researched. . . . [Jacoby] writes with both passion and reason.” —St. Petersburg Times
“Eloquent. . . . [Jacoby] is courageously right. . . . One can hope that her impassioned, closely argued tract gains a serious hearing among her fellow boomers.” —Columbia Journalism Review
“Never Say Die is a beautifully written, clear-eyed, and deeply compassionate book." —Sam Harris, author of The Moral Landscape and The End of Faith.