"Aging in America simultaneously delivers a sobering and encouraging look at what an extraordinary generation—the proverbial pig moving through a python—confronts in the third act of their lives . . . [Samuel's] style is conversational and clever; his message, thought provoking. Highly recommended for scholars and common readers as a substantial historical survey and as a corrective to the doom-and-gloom prognostications that dominate today's economic headlines."—Journal of American CultureAging is a preoccupation shared by beauty bloggers, serious journalists, scientists, doctors, celebrities—arguably all of adult America, given the pervasiveness of the crusade against it in popular culture and the media. We take our youth-oriented culture as a given but, as Lawrence R. Samuel argues, this was not always the case. Old age was revered in early America, in part because it was so rare. Indeed, it was not until the 1960s, according to Samuel, that the story of aging in America became the one we are most familiar with today: aging is a disease that science will one day cure, and in the meantime, signs of aging should be prevented, masked, and treated as a source of shame.
"An insightful and incisive history of cultural responses to aging from the 1950s to the present. No previous author has examined so thoughtfully or thoroughly the medical, economic, and political discourse surrounding aging in our youth-oriented yet graying society."—Steven Mintz, author of The Prime of Life: A History of American Adulthood
"A must-read for anyone interested in the past, present, and future of aging in America."—Ken Dychtwald, author of A New Purpose: Redefining Money, Family, Work, Retirement, and Success
"Aging in America chronicles through time the fascinating history of how we age and think about aging. An extraordinarily thorough narrative of all things aging in the United States."—S. Jay Olshansky, University of Illinois at Chicago
"Samuel shares truly deep insight into baby boomers' pursuit of meaning and purpose as they make their way through the next act of their lives. An essential resource of understanding for those who are focused on the implications of the aging of this ageless generation."—Peter Hubbell, Founder & CEO of BoomAgers and author of The Old Rush and Getting Better With Age
By tracing the story of aging in the United States over the course of the last half century, Samuel vividly demonstrates the ways in which getting older tangibly contradicts the prevailing social values and attitudes of our youth-obsessed culture. As a result, tens of millions of adults approaching their sixties and seventies in this decade do not know how to age, as they were never prepared to do so.
Despite recent trends that suggest a more positive outlook, getting old is still viewed in terms of physical and cognitive decline, resulting in discrimination in the workplace and marginalization in social life. Samuels concludes Aging in America by exhorting his fellow baby boomers to use their economic clout and sheer numbers to change the narrative of aging in America.
Lawrence R. Samuel is founder of Boomers 3.0, a consultancy dedicated to helping organizations create meaningful relationships with baby boomers in their third act of life. He is also author of several books, including Freud on Madison Avenue: Motivation Research and Subliminal Advertising in America, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.