THE FOUNTAIN OF AGE by Betty Friedan


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 A book that explodes the myths of aging--just as, 30 years ago, Friedan exploded the mirage of the contented housewife. American women's lives changed forever with The Feminine Mystique--and this challenging exploration of aging may do the same for the skyrocketing population of men and women who have hit 60 and can anticipate 20 or 30 more years of living. The problem, Friedan says, is that although only about five percent of people over 65 are in nursing homes and fewer than ten percent ever will be, age is seen--by media, doctors, politicians, academics, even activists on behalf of the aging--as a ``problem,'' a ``plight,'' a time of rapidly decreasing physical and mental faculties. Older people buy into that picture, straining to stay youthful or removing themselves from active participation in society, often by retiring to ``leisure'' communities, whether or not leisure is what they crave. Friedan produces research studies and anecdotal evidence that the ``Third Age'' (after growing up and then generating a family and/or career) may be the age of true creativity--even of evolution. She examines the tragedies of productive lives cut short by early retirement; the new myths of menopause; early preparation for death; and anxious overprotectiveness by family, friends, professionals, and government. In fact, the many resourceful older men and women cited here have found ways not only to sustain rewarding lives but to grow intellectually, emotionally, and even physically (Friedan discusses her own Outward Bound experience at age 60). That America's youth-oriented culture puts its elders on a social ice floe at a time when wisdom, experience, and honed critical faculties are most needed indicates, suggests Friedan, a nation with its priorities sadly skewed. Lengthy and slow to build, but, still, a far-sighted and far- reaching critique that may move the over-60s to reestablish the ``priorities of evolving life...and new visions for our stagnant society.'' (First serial rights to Time and Good Housekeeping)

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-40027-4
Page count: 688pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993


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