“Informed and metaphysically nuanced…Cave presents his arguments in a brisk, engaging style, and draws effectively upon a wide-ranging stock of religious, philosophical, and scientific sources, both ancient and contemporary.”
--Weekly Standard“In his survey of the subject, Stephen Cave, a British philosopher, argues that man’s various tales of immortality can be boiled down into four basic “narratives”… For the aspiring undying, Mr Cave unfortunately concludes that immortality is a mirage. But his demolition project is fascinating in its own right…If anything, readers might want more of Mr. Cave’s crisp conversational prose.”
--The Economist“A must-read exploration of what spurs human ingenuity. Every once in a while a book comes along that catches me by surprise and provides me with an entirely new lens through which to view the world…Such is the case with Stephen Cave’s book Immortality…Cave presents an extremely compelling case – one that has changed my view of the driving force of civilization as much as Jared Diamond did years ago with his brilliant book Guns, Germs and Steel.”
--S. Jay Olshanksy, New Scientist magazine
"Cave explains how the seeking of immortality is the foundation of human achievement, the wellspring of art, religion and civilization...The author is rangy and recondite, searching the byways of elixirs, the surprises of alchemy, the faith in engineering and all the wonder to be found in discussions of life and death...Luminous."
--Kirkus Reviews “A dramatic and frequently surprising story of the pursuit of immortality and its effects on human history.”
--Booklist“A beautifully clear and entertaining look at life after death
. Cave does not shrink from the hard questions. Bold and thought-provoking.”
—Eric Olson, author of The Human Animal
and What Are We?
plumbs the depths of the human mind and ties the quest for the infinite prolongation of life into the very nature of civilization itself. Cave reveals remarkable depth and breadth of learning, yet is always a breeze to read. I thoroughly enjoyed his book—it’s a really intriguing study.”
—David Boyd Haycock, author of Mortal Coil
and A Crisis of Brilliance
“I loved this. Cave has set himself an enormous task and accomplished it—in spades.
Establishing a four-level subject matter, he has stuck to his guns and never let up. As he left one level and went to the next, I was always a little worried: Would he be able to pull it off? This was especially true as he approached the end. There is a sense in which each level, as he left it smoking in the road, looked easy as he started the next. In fact, the last level, while it is the most difficult, is the best, the most satisfying. I am happy to live in the world Cave describes.”
— Charles Van Doren, author of A History of Knowledge “Cave is smart, lucid, elegant and original. Immortality is an engaging read about our oldest obsession, and how that obsession propels some of our greatest accomplishments.”
—Greg Critser, author of Eternity Soup “In Immortality Stephen Cave tells wonderful stories about one of humanity’s oldest desires and comes to a wise conclusion.”
— Stefan Klein, author of The Science of Happiness
and The Secret Pulse of Time “Cave has produced a strikingly original and compelling exploration of the age-old conundrum: Can we live forever, and do we really want to?”
—John Horgan, science journalist and author of The End of War
About the Author
Stephen Cave holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cambridge University and, before turning to full-time writing, worked as a diplomat. He writes regularly for the Financial Times
and also contributes to the New York Times.