The Book of Immortality by Adam Leith Gollner
The Science, Belief, and Magic Behind Living Forever

77%

6 Critic Reviews

Fascinating historical information abounds about the magic elixirs (including blood), snake oils ancient and contemporary, sought in the pursuit of youth and immorality by rulers and commoners alike.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

What have we not done to live forever? The critically acclaimed author of The Fruit Hunters—now an award-winning documentary film—weaves together religion, science, and mythology in a gripping exploration of the most universal of human obsessions: immortality.

What have we not done to live forever? Adam Leith Gollner, the critically acclaimed author of The Fruit Hunters, weaves together religion, science, and mythology in a gripping exploration of the most universal of human obsessions: immortality.

Raised without religion, Adam Leith Gollner was struck by mankind’s tireless efforts to cheat aging and death. In a narrative that pivots between profundity and hilarity, he brings us into the world of those whose lives are shaped by a belief in immortality. From a Jesuit priest on his deathbed to antiaging researchers at Harvard, Gollner— sorting truth from absurdity—canvasses religion and science for insight, along with an array of cults, myths, and fringe figures.

He journeys to David Copperfield’s archipelago in the Bahamas, where the magician claims to have found “a liquid that reverses genes.” He explores a cryonics facility, attends a costume party set in the year 2068 with a group of radical life-extensionists, and soaks in the transformative mineral waters at the Esalen Institute. Looking to history, Gollner visits St. Augustine, Florida, where Ponce de León is thought to have sought the Fountain of Youth.

Combining immersive reporting, rigorous research, and lyrical prose, Gollner charts the rise of longevity science from its alchemical beginnings to modern-day genetic interventions. He delves into the symbolic representation of eternal life and its connection to water. Interlaced throughout is a compelling meditation on the nature of belief, showing how every story we tell about immortality is a story about the meaning of death.

“Part journalist, part detective, part scientist.” (New York Post). Adam Leith Gollner has written a rollicking and revelatory examination of our age-old notion of living forever.
 

About Adam Leith Gollner

See more books from this Author
Adam Leith Gollner has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Globe and Mail, and Lucky Peach. The former editor of Vice Magazine, his first book is The Fruit Hunters. He lives in Montreal.
 
Published August 20, 2013 by Scribner. 417 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Science & Math, History, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Book of Immortality
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on May 26 2013

An entertaining, well-researched account of the quest that brims with our fond hopes, foolishness and even desperation.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 10 2013

In an effort as ambitious as it is (probably) impossible, former Vice editor Gollner (The Fruit Hunters) embarks on an epic quest to understand the nature of immortality.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by John Ross on Aug 16 2013

Mr. Gollner is a good sport and a fine wordsmith. Part Mary Roach, part Joe Strummer of the Clash, he injects punk energy and invention into the genre of quirky scientific nonfiction. Long may he write.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Robert Collison on Oct 22 2013

“If this dream were a book, what would it be about?” he pondered. “ “There was only one answer: a book of immortality.” For one, I am very happy Gollner had that dream — and wrote this beautiful, illuminating opus.

Read Full Review of The Book of Immortality: The ... | See more reviews from Toronto Star

National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Zsuzsi Gartner on Sep 13 2013

...spiritual immortality gets less airtime in the book compared to the space devoted to the rich seekers like David Copperfield, to whom a seemingly star-struck Gollner devotes almost four chapters.

Read Full Review of The Book of Immortality: The ... | See more reviews from National Post arts

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Zsuzsi Gartner on Sep 13 2013

Fascinating historical information abounds about the magic elixirs (including blood), snake oils ancient and contemporary, sought in the pursuit of youth and immorality by rulers and commoners alike.

Read Full Review of The Book of Immortality: The ... | See more reviews from National Post arts

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57%

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