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Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age [Kindle Edition]

Susan Jacoby
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


"If old age isn't for sissies, then neither is Susan Jacoby's tough-minded, painful-to-read and important book, which demolishes popular myths that we can "cure" the "disease" of aging and knocks the "g" right out of the golden years...[Jacoby supports] her arguments eloquently and persuasively with historical, sociological, scientific and economic research." –Washington Post

“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 Magazine

“Providing a compelling, convincing account of current reality, Jacoby simultaneously demolishes the overly optimistic scenarios of the baby boomer generation…A cogently argued and well-written corrective to ‘the fantasy of beating old age.’” –Kirkus

“An important reality check.” –Booklist, starred review

“Moving and informative.” –Publishers Weekly

"Jacoby sees a new ageism that doesn't just stigmatize old people for their years, but blames them for physical ills that no lifestyle adjustments or medicine can yet forestall...Among other perils, the `old old' have a roughly even chance of being counted among the mind-eaten ranks of Alzheimer's victims. We may not like to think that poverty, social isolation, crippling pain, dementia and loss of autonomy are likely to come calling the longer we live, but it's a fact." -New York Times Book Review

“Mixes rigorous reportage and tart-tongued criticism with memoir and history, slashing through romanticized versions of the golden years and delivering tough truths.” –Newsday

“Eloquent…[Jacoby} is courageously right…one can hope that her impassioned, closely ar...

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

Product Details

  • File Size: 1438 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43FWK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,411 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Say Die June 24, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a well written, very detailed narrative; too detailed for me. It is a very hard book to read because the author exposes the reality of the business of dying.And in many aspects it is a business as anti aging products on the market are too numerous to keep up with. The last few chapters on end of life matters are very important for people to read and understand. As a nurse who worked with older adults and those in terminal conditions, I saw daily the denial, conflict within families, demands for care at any cost, wasteful spending of medicare and health care dollars, dehumanizing the individual and making them stay alive when so many were at peace and accepted their inevitable death. We need to have national discussions on end of life matters and we need them now!. This book by Susan Jacoby may help those discussions occur.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading as an unvarnished reality check on aging February 4, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Definitely worth reading to get a good idea of what getting older will bring with it. Stark reality is what this read exposes one to. For me becoming aware of probable issues can be invaluable in efforts to adapt and this read lays many of those issues in all their naked glory on the table. Cons: I found it unproductive to suffer through her liberal propaganda woven thru information of value and on topic. Her extended vocabulary makes the read more time consuming and detracts from discussion on topic. I found myself wishing many times she would learn to communicate to a wider audience with vocabulary in common use. Overall not an easy read but has value in exposing one to what lies ahead for so many of us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not depressed yet read this book May 8, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
According to this book I only have a little time left. I have turned down some better jobs and am going to coast through this one until social security time. I am saving my meager discretionary income for vacations while I can still walk and remember how to put on my socks. My 401k bit the dust but that is tough. Maybe is can sell this book. I am going to let my body fall apart as there is no use in maintaining.

If you are not depressed you will be.

I do not mean to be pessimist but I am going to read a good spy novel and get rid of the nasty taste of this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Timely Subject February 15, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is such a pleasure to read this excellently written book on aging. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on The "Wisdom of Old Age", The author treats the subject of aging with analytical seriousness yet her wit had me laughing out loud a number of times. She also writes with a personal touch that is most appealing.

I had recently read Susan Jacoby's book "The Age of American Unreason" that I had picked up in a half price store. I was so impressed with her writing style and carefully researched treatment of her subject that I ordered two more books by her from Amazon. I am nearing the end of "Never Say Die" and definitely consider it another winner. As a baby boomer myself I appreciate getting realistic information of what may lie just around the corner for myself and others approaching our older years.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a thorough and intelligent summary of what happens to you when you age in America. It does not paint a pretty picture but it is very informative and thought provoking. Jacoby has some good suggestions on how to make life better for the old.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A hard look at the aging process. August 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Highly opinionated,Jacoby has some very important things to relate to those of us in the seventy-plus age bracket.

Be prepared to change many stereotypical beliefs about what it means to grow old, really old.
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