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Losing It: In which an Aging Professor laments his shrinking Brain... Hardcover – October 25, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300171013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300171013
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A stylish, effortlessly erudite and refreshingly clear-eyed essay about the dastardly — yet inevitable — fate of getting older."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune, Best Books 2011
(Julia Keller Chicago Tribune)

"Miller takes target at the inevitable aging process, and finds much more humor than might be expected . . . Readers may turn to the book for contemplation or a much-needed laugh as they themselves continue the unavoidable journey."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

"Blackly funny and wonderfully thought-provoking. . . A raging screed directed less against the dying of the light than against any denial that the lamps—his, mine, yours—are indeed dimming all the time.”—Brian Bethune, Maclean's
(Brian Bethune Maclean's)

"[Miller's] vigorous pessimism is strangely liberating. . . At times Miller's determined miserabilism gets it so right that all one can do is sit back, revel in the shock of recognition, and laugh aloud."—Laurie Taylor, Times Higher Education Supplement
(Laurie Taylor Times Higher Education Supplement)

"[Miller] is a prankster, a tease, an imp of the perverse, a digressor-transgressor. . .The claim could be made that not since Laurence Sterne's great 18th-century joke of a novel, Tristram Shandy, has any book been so well-founded on the slippery rock of digression."—Henry Allen, Wall Street Journal
(Henry Allen Wall Street Journal)

“Beautifully written, original, deeply insightful, often laugh-out-loud witty, and on not a few occasions (despite the author's curmudgeonly persona) a moving and affecting book.”—Andrew Stark, Professor of Strategic Management, the University of Toronto
(Andrew Stark)

"Nobody lives history like Bill Miller. The rest of us may enjoy reading about the Middle Ages. Miller suffers through them, and in reporting on his experiences, he gives us autobiography that ranks with the greats."—James Whitman, Yale Law School (James Whitman)

"[Miller] is witty and intimidatingly well-read . . . His shtick is so marvelously entertaining that you're willing to listen to what is—by his own admission—a grumpy diatribe over all that's lost by the relentless ticktock."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
(Julia Keller Chicago Tribune)

"Miller takes target at the inevitable aging process, and finds much more humor than might be expected . . . His leisurely pace and straight talk brings topics that are not always openly discussed into the realm of everyday conversation . . . Readers may turn to the book for contemplation or a much-needed laugh as they themselves continue the unavoidable journey."—Publishers Weekly

(Publishers Weekly)

"Miller can grouse and chide with the best, but not all is grim modern comedy. With equal facility, he brings a seriously learned and entertaining hand to the project of growing old in earlier times. . . Everywhere here is the twinkle in Miller's eye. He is having a high and fine old time, and so are we. Old age has become a rueful burlesque, and Miller gives it a mordant poke with a sharpened stick, but he also makes us laugh."—Peter Lewis, Barnes and Noble Review
(Peter Lewis Barnes & Noble Review)

"The cumulative effect of such a tour of aging ought to be depressing, but it's actually bracing. Trying to keep up with the sheer breadth of knowledge in Losing It and actually reading all the wonderful books Miller weaves into this strange, dark, intellectual kilim will keep you constructively engaged while you wait for science to throw up a wild card that might just delay, or even cancel, your own miserable end."—Liz Else, New Scientist CultureLab blog
(Liz Else New Scientist CultureLab Blog)

"The real point of Losing It is that it gives Mr. Miller an opportunity to play one joke after another on the reader, who can elect to be in on the joke or, possibly, throw the book across the room... On any given page you may find Mr. Miller taking you through Dostoyevsky's Underground Man, Slavic word roots, television's The Wire and of course his beloved Icelandic sagas."—Henry Allen, Wall Street Journal
(Henry Allen Wall Street Journal)

“…. [A] wonderful new book….beautifully nuanced.”—Laurie Taylor, Times Higher Education
(Laurie Taylor Times Higher Education 2011-12-01)

“Trying to keep up with the sheer breadth of knowledge in Losing It and actually reading all the wonderful books Miller weaves into this strange, dark, intellectual kilim will keep you constructively engaged while you wait for science to throw up a wild card that might just delay, or even cancel, your own miserable end.”—Liz Else, New Scientist (Liz Else New Scientist 2011-11-19)

“This is a very good book, witty, graceful and erudite, about a subject of more or less pressing concern to all.”—William Palmer, The Oldie
(William Palmer The Oldie 2012-01-01)

“…..a full-throttle performance in which the Middle Ages are a solace for middle age. He embraces revenge, humiliation, etymology, the Gettysburg Address….It’s not for me to spoil the story. Seek it out.”—Christopher Hawtree, The Independent
(Christopher Hawtree The Independent 2011-12-30)

“As highly literate societies age, it is not surprising that increasing numbers of ageing people choose to write about their experiences. Not all of them are as knowledgeable, entertaining, or so full of complaint, as William Ian Miller…..a witty book, all the sharper, more perceptive and more cheering about the realities of ageing for its complaints.”—Pat Thane, Times Literary Supplement (Pat Thane Times Literary Supplement 2012-02-10)

“…..a very good book indeed.”—John Sutherland, Literary Review
(John Sutherland Literary Review 2012-02-01)

“Miller has written an extravaganza of a book that could only have been produced by a remarkably adroit mind functioning at the very topmost top of its form. If he has lost nearly as much cortical circuitry as he asserts, there is no evidence of it here….Even as he is claiming the onrush of debility, the graceful sound of his prose and its sly, wry insights betray him with an abundance of wit, wisdom, and erudition. I suspect that he wants it both ways: 'See how I’m losing it, but see also how brilliant I continue to be.' Well, he most emphatically cannot have it both ways, so he’d better settle on the brilliant." —Sherwin Nuland, The New Republic.
(Sherwin Nuland New Republic)

About the Author

William Ian Miller is Thomas G. Long Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School. He lives in Ann Arbor, MI.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on December 26, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
****
"Miller finds time in between his beautifully nuanced accounts of ageing to find consoling and illustrative analogies in the lives of a vast range of historical and literary figures. But then Miller, apart from being a hugely accomplished social analyst, is also a distinguished professor of law and an expert on medieval history and Icelandic sagas."-- Laurie Taylor, U. of London
*

Growing old gracefully became my only wish since my retirement few years past, probably shared with many other retirees around the globe. Loosing mental faculties starting with memory, and capacity to focus could be more alarming to many elderly than the physical loss of body fitness which comes with age, aging was and still is inevitable. While this book is written by a law professor, rather than a neurologist, Miller articulates his human fears of brain disorders manifesting itself in premature senility.

German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, who devoted his work, a century ago, to the study of the pathology of the nervous system, prescribed the degenerative brain disease, the most common form of dementia. It usually starts in late middle or old age, that results in progressive loss of memory , impaired thinking, disorientation, and changes in personality and mood, leading in advanced cases to a profound decline in cognitive and physical functioning, marked by the degeneration of brain neurons especially in the cerebral cortex.

Miller starts by defining all terms in use, and sets the limits of his compelling essays, and expresses the common grounds with the ordinary reader, sharing in strong words, his irritation and contempt of positive psychology.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By smom on December 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an unexpected pleasure! A serious book loaded with wit, wisdom and knowledge. Not my usual read, but I must say, I enjoy Mr. Miller's style and willingness to share his self examinations with us. Truly envy his students. Recommend to young and older, alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Lombard on October 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Look before you leap?

Dr. Miller - he is a law professor by trade, and a medievalist historian, and an excellent wordsmith too - was 65 when he started this book, while, he says, he still had enough mind left to write it. Near as I can tell, he wasn't aging faster than normal - and was a much better than average thinker to start with.

I am going to refrain from recommending this book. My fellow geezers may not appreciate Miller's attitude, and our whippersnappers have enough trouble respecting our cognitive powers already. I will offer an example of the book's subject matter though - and have chosen one of the weaker ones to hedge my bet that the whippersnappers won't pay attention anyway.

Miller's suspicion about the truth of the proverbial association of wisdom with old age: He relates the commonly held notion that the aged regard things with care and consideration, and condenses it to "Look before you leap". It is inappropriate, he says, when applied to people who can no longer leap, nor see much when they look.

I have my own notions about 'the wisdom of the aged'. Even with the necessary self esteem I have vested, they aren't significantly more complimentary than Miller's. He is a much better writer than I am though. If you geezers think you can handle it, read his book. You whippersnappers, forget I brought it up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. G. Moore on June 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For all the Boomers out there who are hitting those milestone birthdays- and terrified of "Losing IT" this is the perfect gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By john anthony connor on October 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Erudite, witty and entertaining. Even the notes fascinated me.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Author and University of Michigan Law Professor aged 65 writes about aging. The book's full title: "Losing It- in which an aging professor LAMENTS his shrinking BRAIN which he flatters himself formerly did him Noble Service--A Plaint, tragic-comical, historical, vengeful, sometimes satirical and thankful in six parts. if his Memory does yet serve"
He believes that being optimistic and maintaining a positive attitude is a bunch of hooey, self-delusional crap sold by charlatans to those with shrinking brains (those who are aging). Funny, a little esoteric (know anything about ancient Norse mythology?), sometimes enlightening, but entertaining and an enjoyable read. My take- aging, according to the author is a miserable descent towards inevitable death.........but is preferable to the alternative!
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Format: Paperback
Old age, a second child, by nature cursed
With more and greater evils than the first,
Weak, sickly, full of pains; in every breath
Railing at life, and yet afraid of death.

Miller doesn't quote Charles Churchill - but he might have. Getting on? Enjoy!
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