REVIEWS OF THE BOOK

Currier and Ives, 1850. Library of Congress

“Her book is a fascinating biography of the idea of middle age, ‘a story we tell about ourselves.’ … a solidly researched book that finds its wide-ranging examples in the work of the Romantic poets, Trollope and Arthur Miller, as well as Bernice Neugarten, a pioneer in the study of adult development.” — Gail Sheehy in The New York Times

Cohen is a veteran New York Times reporter. Her style is lucid, straightforward and conversational. She provides a thorough — and thoroughly fascinating — cultural history of aging, along with a report on how brain science has changed our understanding of the maturation process. One of her most intriguing chapters explores the way popular culture — magazines, movies and TV — has depicted middle age. She ends on a note of optimism: “Middle age can bring undiscovered passions, profound satisfactions, and newfound creativity. It is a time of extravagant possibilities.”       Chicago Tribune

” ‘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.   — The Associated Press

“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.”  ….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 

In Our Prime is an important book, fascinating, gorgeously researched, and extremely readable.”  — Patricia Bosworth, author of “Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman.”

Patricia Cohen’s terrific In Our Prime makes the compelling argument that middle age was invented…Building on ideas of historian Philippe Aries, whose books on childhood and attitudes toward death illustrated that seemingly natural categories were in fact socially constructed, New York Times staffer Cohen pored over a small library of U.S.-focused source material — government reports, etiquette manuals, scientific journals, fashion magazines — to produce a lively and enlightening narrative that runs from the mid-nineteenth century to last year. Along the way she wittily highlights the key players and developments in the battle over the definition of middle age. — Vancouver Sun

In Our Prime is a serious and useful survey in the subject likely to remain a standard of its kind for some time to come.…Its overall mood is upbeat: mid-life — which Cohen resists defining precisely even as the book ends — is a lengthening time of opportunity. Her message of hope is worth buying, literally and figuratively. — History News Network

“Cohen has… delivered a lively, well-researched chronicle of the social and scientific forces that brought midlife America to its current befuddled state.” — The New York Times

“Cohen traces the birth and . . . well, maturing of middle age in her book, In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age, a thoroughly engaging cultural history of the concept.”   — The Toronto Star

“A cool, well-documented account that puts the concept of middle age into historical context.”   — Kirkus Review

Patricia Cohen has written the liberation anthem of middle age. She show us that there is nothing inevitable about spending middle age in the panicked pursuit of youth; we do it because the admen tell us to. It is a cultural fiction that middle age need be approached with dread. in this carefully researched and skillfully told history of middle age in America, Cohen shows us that our middle years can be years of prestige, autonomy, and confidence — the best years of our lives.” — Pulitzer Prize winner Tina Rosenberg

With intelligence and wit, Patricia Cohen has written a wonderfully readable book that details the untold history of middle age and its surprising journey through the popular culture and the research lab. A brilliant analyst and keen observer, she connects the story of middle age to the story of America’s emergence into the modern world, bringing to life the filmmakers and admen, scientists and hucksters who have shaped our understanding and experience of the middle years.         Barbara Strauch, author of “The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain.”

“Cohen moves seamlessly from the origins of the concept to the newest scientific findings, all the while sustaining a fascinating narrative.”  — Juliet B. Schor, author of “Born to Buy” and “True Wealth.”

“In this extraordinary, comprehensive book about middle age, Patricia Cohen provides us with a wise and unique appraisal of recent scientific research on human development during midlife and describes how it has dealt a deathblow to false myths about the midlife crisis.”– Orville Gilbert Brim Jr., former director of the MacArthur Foundation of Research Network on Successful Midlife Development.

“it is truly a comprehensive look at middle age through the eyes of scientists, historians, psychologists, medical doctors, marketers and many more…one thing that’s refreshing about this work: its scholarly approach to middle age is not about finding a way to tighten skin, thicken hair or thin the waistline. Middle-aged readers may pick it up looking for that, but will find better relief in at least some of Cohen’s experts’ view that middle age is no worse, and maybe even better, than other ages.” — Winnipeg Free Press

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