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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good and concise book on human aging for non-scientists., April 5, 2000
I recently finished reading this book and found it to be quite interesting and helpful in understanding why and how we all age. I think Tom Kirkwood did a very good job in explaining the biological mechanisms and processes behind aging - at a level comprehensible to the general reader - without oversimplifying or neglecting the necessary subject matter.
The book starts by talking about the social aspects and worldwide (also historical) statistics of human aging. Then the author introduces a theory of aging and gives an overview about the evolutionary, biological, physiological, and biochemical concepts and mechanisms, which is necessary to understand the aging process. In doing this, he also explains many aspects of cancer. The later chapters try to clarify the reason behind the gender- and geography-related differences in life expectancies. Finally, the last two chapters talk about the "do"s and "don't"s of "making more time". The bibliography section at the end of the book directs more interested readers to specific and more advanced sources about the material covered in the book.
Although this book was generally fast-reading, I had to re-read some looong sentences two or even three times in order to put their heads and tails together. Also, I found the last two chapters a little anticlimactic. I guess I was expecting more than "don't smoke, eat right, exercise" type of recommendations. The author doesn't make many predictions about longevity enhancement in the future, but the short science fiction story at the end of the book kind of serves for this purpose.
Still, the book deserves a five star rating in my humble opinion because it successfully explains a very complicated process to the layman without using scientific jargon. Also, the author does not go out on a limb and make unfounded or crazy predictions (like many famous science authors cannot resist the temptation of doing).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers many questions and presents the latest data, August 13, 2000
If you've ever wondered why we can live to 80 years while our pets or livestock can expect to live for only a small fraction of that span, you'll find the explanations in "The Time of our Lives" very satisfying.
The best part of this book is its exploration of what aging is, in biological terms, and how different modes of aging can be explained by Darwinian theory. This is not a book on how to live longer, but rather a book on what scientists are learning about the mechanisms and reasons for aging.
Kirkwood writes in a lighthearted and readable style, but unlike many popular science writers, he gives his reader total respect. In areas where I keep up with medical research, (like the long-term effects of HRT) I found his book to be right up to date with the research published within the last year.
Best of all, he has no "do this and live for ever" prescription--a nice change from most other books about aging available nowadays, which seem to have been written under the sponsorship of supplement manufacturers.
A pleasant and informative read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breezy anecdotal style punctuated by dagger-thrusts, December 22, 2002
This review is from: Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Aging (Paperback)
Don't be misled by the first few chapters. The style is relaxed, discursive, and laced with entertaining anecdotes which sometimes seem a little off-subject.
The "disposable soma" theory of aging emerges in Chapter 6. The author first proposed this theory in a paper published in Nature in 1977, and he argues a convincing case. It is a simple but highly plausible theory, like Darwin's theory of evolution, and it defines a framework within which other theories of aging can be understood.
DNA and cells are constantly under attack. They are under attack from such things as ultraviolet radiation, viruses, free oxygen released by normal mitochondrial metabolism, and the odd hiccup during DNA-copying. We have defences against these attacks: the immune-system, anti-oxidants, and a form of DNA proof-reading under which "cells could in principle be as accurate as they liked". BUT all these defences come at a cost. The germ cells are indeed protected at any cost: that is why life goes on forever. But it would be a waste of energy to protect the somatic cells in a way that would prolong life beyond the point at which accidental death would claim almost every individual. The maximum length of time that a member of a species would normally survive in the wild determines the degree of protection which the genes of the species are prepared to pay for.
The irony is that we might be shortening our lives by drowning our bodies with oxidants generated by burning far more calories than we evolved to handle. If only those excess calories could be diverted into improving our internal "repairs & maintenance" and so lengthen our lives instead!
An excellent book, as iconoclastic in its way as Richard Dawkin's "Selfish Gene", though not as melodramatic.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time of Our Lives, June 8, 2009
This review is from: Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Aging (Paperback)
I received my product in great time! The book was in great condition, as promised. Great seller!
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Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Aging
Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Aging by Tom Kirkwood (Paperback - January 11, 2001)
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