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The Art of Aging: A Doctor's Prescription for Well-Being Paperback – May 6, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The septuagenarian surgeon whose brutally honest demythologization of death in How We Die garnered a National Book Award offers a mushier, platitude-filled treatise on aging, calling it a "gift" that establishes boundaries in our lives, making everything within those boundaries all the more precious. Brief, frank descriptions of droopy penises, declining hormone levels and loss of hearing and bone density are accompanied by reminders that stroke is not a normal consequence of aging and that our bodies are like cars and taking good care of parts extends their usefulness. A gushing tribute to pioneering cardiac surgeon Michael DeBakey, now aged 98, teaches the importance of knowing one's limitations and learning to function within them, while now-80-year-old actress Patricia Neal recalls how sheer stubbornness and a browbeating husband enabled her recovery from a debilitating stroke at 39. Nuland learned life lessons from two fans, a cancer survivor who understands that it's her response to adversity, and not the adversity itself, that shapes her future, and a formerly depressed octogenarian who now doesn't allow herself the "luxury" of despair. Although some of Nuland's devotees will be comforted by his hopeful if familiar advice, others seeking more of the bracing, defiant insights that made him famous will be disappointed. (Mar. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In the penultimate chapter, on wisdom, Nuland says he hopes to "avoid the great temptation of waxing ponderous." Too late. All too many of the preceding chapters are eye-rollingly boring in spots or, when they consist largely of medical and physiological data, almost throughout. At least there are no graphs; better yet, despite the subtitle, this is not a self-help tome. But Nuland is far too good a writer to give us a thoroughly dull book, and as we know from his previous best-sellers and prize winners, beginning with How We Die (1994), when he writes about his own experiences and particular people, his is as good as narrative nonfiction gets. Two chapters are outstanding; each of them is primarily a profile of an extraordinary person. One focuses on the greatest living cardiologist, Michael DeBakey, who remains professionally and otherwise active at 98. The other profiles the brilliant English eccentric Aubrey de Grey, who has made himself a one-man explanatory and promotional army for the notion that human life is vastly extendable and that maximum longevity is every person's most important right. A couple of other chapters containing portraits of vigorous survivors of severe disease incidents (stroke, heart attack, etc.) are pretty absorbing, and all the advice on aging is sound and unfaddish, despite being tedious. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812975413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812975413
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on March 5, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This book is according to Sherwin Nuland written primarily for those in their fifties and sixties. Nuland hopes to instruct them on how to wisely age. Physical exercise, maintaining a network of close personal relationships, and being 'creative' ( In the broadest sense of the term) is at the heart of his prescription. Nuland is upbeat about the prospect that we can by focusing on what we are really good at, what gives us real pleasure improve the quality of our lives in Old Age. Nuland gives examples of people who do function remarkably well in advanced old age, such as the legendary surgeon Michael deBakey who was still operating at the age of ninety- seven.

Some of the reviewers of the book I have seen including the outstanding Joseph Epstein have said that Nuland at points is platitudinous, and preachy. They say he at certain points ceases being the sharp, perceptive first - rate observer he was in his earlier award- winning book, "The Way We Die"

But in my understanding Nuland is balanced, humane and realistic throughout this work. For instance, in one interesting section he counters the proposal of a scientist working to eliminate death. Nuland makes a strong argument that the death of the individual serves the well- being of the species, and its survival.

It seems to me to anyone interested in growing old in the best way possible would do well to read this book..
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Format: Hardcover
I just turned 65 and had this book brought to my attention. There are few instruction books to follow at this age. Each change that takes place in your body and your mind is often scary and occasionally misunderstood. Dr. Nuland compassionately decribes a variety of both "Superoldfolks" and normal old folks. He puts their lives into perspective through science and "beliefs". He proposes what the future may bring to the aging process. For this reader, he took much of the fear I have in regard the future and replaced it with hope and direction.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has reached 65 and doesn't fully understand what to expect will happen to them from now until their passing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Nuland has authored an excellent guide to extending ones life. At first glance, I thought this book would offer substantial how to guidance on nutrition, exercise, and other physical life extending practices. I was pleased to discover that Dr. Nuland explores a wide array of discoveries concerned with the social practices that truly make one "alive".

Chief among these life giving/extending practices, are the intrinsic rewards offered to those who, in some way, live for the benefit of others. My heart resonated with the stories of people who by serving others have found purpose and therefore life. This book makes a great birthday gift for anyone who is on or is beginning his or her later life journey. It causes one to reflect on the fascinating adventures that could be in store for those who ponder the possibilities of an extraordinary purpose filled life.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Nuland has provided persuasive evidence for his thesis that aging is developmental and not a disease. Therefore, the process is responsive to management by continuing vigorous physical exercise, creative effort, and nurturing of intimate friendships. Extension of a high quality of life, even in the event of serious illness or other limiting medical problems, is possible for those of us who will make the effort. I recommend this book to all readers who are willing to keep an open mind about the possibility of changing, even into great age.
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Format: Hardcover
Over a decade ago, Dr. Nuland wrote a brilliant "How We Die" in his attempt to demystify death. Now he is attempting the same goal with aging in his current book. There is the same clinical descriptions of the body along with brief biographies of those aging well. The author could have used a more forceful editor as the writing is occasionally over the top but never dull. Overall, an excellent thought-provoking read.
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent book! A step above many others of it's ilk. philosophy and ideas rather than just how to. Nuland is a wise man.
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Format: Hardcover
I had greatly admired Nuland's book "How we die" so when the "Art of Aging" was released I was one of the first to purchase it. The book started out with a dramatic story of a risky encounter that 72 year old Nuland had on a subway and since I am also 72, the author had my full attention. Unfortunately, the book went downhill a bit from that point on. Some sections were very informative but others were much too wordy. I found myself wishing that Nuland's editor had taken on a more assertive role in shortening and in some cases rewriting certain passages. Overall, the book didn't quite meet my high expectations.
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Format: Hardcover
Physician author Sherwin Nuland offers case studies of successful aging in this insightful and well-written book. Nuland has a gift for language and is as skillful with the words as he is with a scalpel. We see vignettes of aging individuals who have made accommodations to father time. The chapter on Dr. Michael Debakey is fascinating and alone worth the time investment.

Nuland avoids any preachiness and he does not offer a cranky view of the aging process. What he suggests - exercise, diet, sound habits, deep relationships, meaningful work - are not exactly things we haven't heard before but they are presented persuasively here.

Those facing middle age and older will find practicality within these pages and an outline of strategies that might not make you live any longer, but will certainly help you squeeze more life out of the time that is left us!
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