Review of “The Living End” (2008)

Written by Dyami Millarson

The final days of June I have spent reading The Living End (2008) by Guy Brown. The book serves as an excellent scientific introduction to the topic of aging. It makes a persuasive case for the need to defeat aging and to develop a new perspective regarding death, aging and immortality.

I myself never needed to be convinced of the dire need to defeat aging, because I made an oath to myself in Dutch when I was just three years old that I, upon witnessing the deaths of people and animals I cared about, would toil all my life for defeating aging. I have always – ever since I could talk and reason – firmly believed that it is the most altruistic thing one can do in this world. Language is the most critical tool we need to rely on for the altruistic ambition of defeating aging.

Let me briefly comment on the structure of the book. Each chapter has an interlude, which usually includes literary references. These interludes demonstrate that the author is well-versed in popular literature. The book is really well-organised. One can feel that it is working towards something. Even if the topic itself is familiar to me, I enjoyed reading the book, because it is written in a simple and plain manner that is really easy to follow.

I did not learn so much from the content of the book as much as I learned from the way that the content was structured; such a simple and plain explanation of complex ideas helps one to organise and structure one’s own thoughts. Therefore, the book is valuable to both layman and specialist. I consider it a classic, and I believe that if one wants to know about aging, one should start with “The Living End”.

It touches on a variety of topics such as the horrors of aging: dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and so on. The book commences with an in-depth exploration of how our understanding of aging and death have been modified over the centuries. It gradually becomes more philosophical towards the middle and it becomes more practical towards the end. I will not analyse all the minute details over here, because, although the book is worth summarising, I want to keep my review very short: My personal opinion is that it is a very good book because it makes you think, and if you are curious about the content, please read it for yourself! I read books to be inspired and The Living End definitely achieved that end; I feel more motivated after reading.

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