As revelatory as Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, physician and award-winning author Louise Aronson's Elderhood is an essential, empathetic look at a vital but often disparaged stage of life.
For more than 5,000 years, "old" has been defined as beginning between the ages of 60 and 70. That means most people alive today will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood, and many will be elders for 40 years or more. Yet at the very moment that humans are living longer than ever before, we've made old age into a disease, a condition to be dreaded, denigrated, neglected, and denied.
Reminiscent of Oliver Sacks, noted Harvard-trained geriatrician Louise Aronson uses stories from her quarter century of caring for patients, and draws from history, science, literature, popular culture, and her own life to weave a vision of old age that's neither nightmare nor utopian fantasy--a vision full of joy, wonder, frustration, outrage, and hope about aging, medicine, and humanity itself.
Elderhood is for anyone who is, in the author's own words, "an aging, i.e., still-breathing human being."
Louise Aronson, MD, is the author of A History of the Present Illness and is a geriatrician, educator, and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she directs UCSF Health Humanities. A graduate of Harvard Medical School and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, Dr. Aronson has received the Gold Professorship in Humanism, the California Homecare Physician of the Year Award, and the American Geriatrics Society Clinician-Teacher of the Year Award, as well as numerous awards for her teaching, educational research, and writing. The recipient of a MacDowell fellowship and four Pushcart nominations, her articles and stories have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, and Bellevue Literary Review. She lives in San Francisco.
An eminent psychologist offers a major new theory of human cognition: movement, not language, is the foundation of thought
When we try to think about how we think, we can't help but think of words. Indeed, some have called language the stuff of thought. But pictures are remembered far better than words, and describing faces, scenes, and events defies words. Anytime you take a shortcut or play chess or basketball or rearrange your furniture in your mind, you've done something remarkable: abstract thinking without words.
In Mind in Motion, psychologist Barbara Tversky shows that spatial cognition isn't just a peripheral aspect of thought, but its very foundation, enabling us to draw meaning from our bodies and their actions in the world. Our actions in real space get turned into mental actions on thought, often spouting spontaneously from our bodies as gestures. Spatial thinking underlies creating and using maps, assembling furniture, devising football strategies, designing airports, understanding the flow of people, traffic, water, and ideas. Spatial thinking even underlies the structure and meaning of language: why we say we push ideas forward or tear them apart, why we're feeling up or have grown far apart.
Like Thinking, Fast and Slow before it, Mind in Motion gives us a new way to think about how--and where--thinking takes place.
Barbara Tversky is an emerita professor of psychology at Stanford University and a professor of psychology at Teachers College at Columbia University. She is also the President of the Association for Psychological Science. Tversky has published over 200 scholarly articles about memory, spatial thinking, design, and creativity, and regularly speaks about embodied cognition at interdisciplinary conferences and workshops around the world. She lives in New York.
An in-depth study of American social movements after the Civil War and their lessons for today by a prizewinning historian
The Civil War unleashed a torrent of claims for equality--in the chaotic years following the war, former slaves, women's rights activists, farmhands, and factory workers all engaged in the pursuit of the meaning of equality in America. This contest resulted in experiments in collective action, as millions joined leagues and unions. In Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866-1886, Charles Postel demonstrates how taking stock of these movements forces us to rethink some of the central myths of American history.
Despite a nationwide push for equality, egalitarian impulses oftentimes clashed with one another. These dynamics get to the heart of the great paradox of the fifty years following the Civil War and of American history at large: Waves of agricultural, labor, and women's rights movements were accompanied by the deepening of racial discrimination and oppression. Herculean efforts to overcome the economic inequality of the first Gilded Age and the sexual inequality of the late-Victorian social order emerged alongside Native American dispossession, Chinese exclusion, Jim Crow segregation, and lynch law.
Now, as Postel argues, the twenty-first century has ushered in a second Gilded Age of savage socioeconomic inequalities. Convincing and learned, Equality explores the roots of these social fissures and speaks urgently to the need for expansive strides toward equality to meet our contemporary crisis.
Charles Postel is the author of The Populist Vision, which received the 2008 Bancroft Prize and the 2008 Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians. He is a professor of history at San Francisco State University and was elected to the Society of American Historians in 2018.