In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age

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In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age Sociology
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Product Description

From the New York Times reporter whose beat is culture and ideas, a fascinating, revelatory and timely social history of the concept of middle age, from the late nineteenth century when the term “midlife” first entered the dictionary to the present.

For the first time in history, boomers, or the middle-aged, make up the largest, richest, and most influential segment of the country. A trillion-dollar economy —the “Midlife Industrial Complex”—has grown up feeding and fueling their needs, whims, and desires. Millions of federal dollars have been spent on scientific research into their habits, health, marriages, divorces, fears, and passions. Their concerns dominate the self-help shelves in bookstores, while their dramas flood Facebook and Twitter. For Americans living before the Civil War, this would be a baffling phenomenon—primarily because the idea of middle age hadn’t been conceived yet. In Our Prime is an illuminating biography of the idea of middle age from its invention to its current place at the center of American society.

Patricia Cohen cites cutting-edge science and decades-long studies to identify the varying forces that shape our understanding of middle age today. She traces the different definitions of middle age—biological, psychological, and sociological—and the different manifestations: from the figure in a mid-nineteenth century daguerreotype to the botoxed, face-lifted one hitting her prime in her 50s today. Cohen also dismantles some of the most stubborn myths about the middle years, such as the midlife crisis and the empty nest syndrome.

Fresh, hard-hitting, informative, and upbeat, In Our Prime puts anxiety about aging—for both men and women—into context and examines what it means both individually and culturally.

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