PROLONGEVITY by Albert Rosenfeld
Kirkus Star


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It's a clever neologism. Not only is Rosenfeld telling us that he's writing about ways the good life can be prolonged, he's saying he's in favor of it. As to the ways, it would have been commendable had he simply translated current ideas and research into layman's terms. But out of concern for the subject he adds a personal note, fleshing out the personalities of the scientists he interviewed, describing his reactions, his hunches, and in the end, his feelings and hopes. It is a prodigious accomplishment, for gerontology is a vast net. Rosenfeld catches the biorhythm people who believe there is a clock inexorably running down in the cell or mastering our fate in the brain; the immunologists who focus on failings in our defenses; the engineers who believe in wear and tear; hosts of chemists with free radical or cross-linkage ideas; geneticists who see a pile-up of DNA errors in our end; and so on. But for all the suggested causes of age and decay there may be fixes. Rosenfeld dwells on the various hormones, antioxidants, vitamins, and other ways of righting the wrongs or imbalances flesh is heir to. As yet there is no unified theory of aging. At the same time Rosenfeld suggests that there is no incompatibility among several approaches so that a synthesis may be possible. In the second part of the book he deals with the moral and, one might say, science fiction aspects of 300-year lives or more. Would we behave well or badly? Reserve the elixir for the elite? Forestall birth? Populate space? Allow those who choose to die? Rosenfeld presents a variety of scenarios that will provoke the pessimists and thrill the optimists--of which he's one. And bold enough to bring it off.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1976
Publisher: Knopf