In Our Prime by Patricia Cohen
The Invention of Middle Age

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The irony missed by Ms. Cohen is that the technology and affluence that gives rise to the Midlife Industrial Complex is also the foundation for the middle age she admires.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

Now in paperback from New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen, a “lively, well-researched chronicle” (The New York Times Book Review) of the concept of middle age, from the nineteenth century to the present.

The director behind the Hollywood close-up and the inventor of the “midlife crisis,” the doctors who promised to restore men’s sexual vigor with monkey gland transplants and the neuroscientists mapping the middle-aged brain, the fashion designers and the feminists: They are all part of the fascinating parade of businessmen, entertainers, scientists, and hucksters who have shaped our understanding and experience of middle age.

Midlife has swung between serving as a symbol of power and influence and a metaphor for decline, yet the invention and history of this vital period of life have never before been fully told. Acclaimed New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen finally fills the gap with a book that provokes surprise, outrage, and delight. In Our Prime takes readers from turn-of-the-century factories that refused to hire middle-aged men to high-tech laboratories where researchers are unraveling the secrets of the middle-aged mind and body. She traces how midlife has been depicted in film, television, advertisements, and literature. Cohen exposes the myths of the midlife crisis and empty-nest syndrome and investigates antiaging treatments such as human growth hormones, estrogen, Viagra, Botox, and plastic surgery.

Exhilarating and empowering, In Our Prime will compel readers to reexamine a topic they think they already know.
 

About Patricia Cohen

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Patricia Cohen has been a New York Times reporter for thirteen years. She has also worked at The Washington Post, New York Newsday, and Rolling Stone. She has a BA from Cornell University and a graduate degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
 
Published January 10, 2012 by Scribner. 338 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences, Parenting & Relationships, Self Help. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for In Our Prime
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Gail Sheehy on Feb 01 2012

...solidly researched book that finds its wide-ranging examples in the work of the Romantic poets, Trollope and Arthur Miller, as well as Bernice Neugarten, a pioneer in the study of adult development.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Laura Shapiro on Jan 13 2012

An upbeat look at middle age? Patricia Cohen had her work cut out for her.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Kay Hymowitz on Jan 14 2012

The irony missed by Ms. Cohen is that the technology and affluence that gives rise to the Midlife Industrial Complex is also the foundation for the middle age she admires.

Read Full Review of In Our Prime: The Invention o... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Christine Sismondo on Jan 14 2012

Cohen’s conclusion is that we live in an age of infinite possibility for middle age, thanks to the changing ideas we have about it. Which is certainly a comforting thought for those of us in it, or on the cusp of entering it — whenever that may be.

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Reader Rating for In Our Prime
80%

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