Why Survive?: Being Old in America

By Robert N. Butler



The author questions the value of long life for its own sake, arguing that modern medicine has ironically created a group for whom survival is possible but satisfaction elusive. He proposed reforms to redefine and restructure the institutions responsible for the elderly in America.

Product Details

Price: $32.00
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Published Date: February 01, 2003
Pages: 512
Dimensions: 5.54 X 1.29 X 8.42 inches | 1.48 pounds
ISBN: 9780801874253
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Robert N. Butler, M.D., is president and chief executive officer of the International Longevity Center-USA and professor of geriatrics at the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. From 1975 to 1982 he was the founding director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. In 1982 he founded the first department of geriatrics in a U.S. medical school. In 1976 Butler won the Pulitzer Prize for his book Why Survive?: Being Old in America. He is co-author (with Dr. Myrna I. Lewis) of the books Aging and Mental Health and Love and Sex After 60. He is presently working on a book, The Longevity Revolution.


"Butler questions the value of long life for its own sake; modern medicine, he says, has ironically created 'a huge group of people for whom survival is possible but satisfaction in living elusive.' He proposes sweeping policy reforms to redefine and restructure the institutions responsible for what he calls 'the tragedy of old age in America.'."

--New York Times Book Review

"This book admirably reviews the panoply of ugly social facts which add up to 'ageism' (a term Butler coined, meaning prejudice against old persons). In such areas as housing, Social Security, inflation, nursing homes, and medical care, Butler reports pervasive private despair and public neglect.. [and] calls for a 'national policy on aging' which would encompass more and better health care, nutrition, transportation, and public service information."

--Library Journal

"Everyone should read this book... suitable for use in high school as well as medical school, and for readers of every age."

--Journal of the American Medical Association

"Crammed with facts that explode old myths."

--Boston Globe

"Eloquent, exhaustive, and formidably informed... A mandatory book."

--Kirkus Reviews

"Heavily documented, highly readable... jammed with recommendations for constructive change in every area."


"The Encyclopedia Britannica of American aging."