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Defending Giants
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Losing ItLosing It

In which an Aging Professor laments his shrinking Brain...

William Ian Miller

Chicago Tribune, Best Books 2011

Narrated by Michael Scherer

Available from Audible

Book published by Yale University Press

In Losing It, William Ian Miller brings his inimitable wit and learning to the subject of growing old: too old to matter, of either rightly losing your confidence or wrongly maintaining it, culpably refusing to face the fact that you are losing it. The “it” in Miller’s “losing it” refers mainly to mental faculties—memory, processing speed, sensory acuity, the capacity to focus. But it includes other evidence as well—sags and flaccidities, aches and pains, failing joints and organs. What are we to make of these tell-tale signs? Does growing old gracefully mean more than simply refusing unseemly cosmetic surgeries? How do we face decline and the final drawing of the blinds? Will we know if and when we have lingered too long?

Drawing on a lifetime of deep study and anxious observation, Miller enlists the wisdom of the ancients to confront these vexed questions head on. Debunking the glossy new image of old age that has accompanied the graying of the Baby Boomers, he conjures a lost world of aging rituals—complaints, taking to bed, resentments of one’s heirs, schemes for taking it with you or settling up accounts and scores—to remind us of the ongoing dilemmas of old age. Darkly intelligent and sublimely written, this exhilarating and eccentric book will raise the spirits of readers, young and old.

William Ian Miller is Thomas G. Long Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School.


“A stylish, effortlessly erudite and refreshingly clear-eyed essay about the dastardly — yet inevitable — fate of getting older."”

Chicago Tribune, Best Books 2011

“[Miller's] vigorous pessimism is strangely liberating... At times Miller's determined miserabilism gets it so right that all one can do is sit back, revel in the shock of recognition, and laugh aloud.”

Times Higher Education Supplement

“[Miller] is a prankster, a tease, an imp of the perverse, a digressor-transgressor...The claim could be made that not since Laurence Sterne's great 18th-century joke of a novel, Tristram Shandy, has any book been so well-founded on the slippery rock of digression.”

Wall Street Journal

“Miller takes target at the inevitable aging process, and finds much more humor than might be expected ... His leisurely pace and straight talk brings topics that are not always openly discussed into the realm of everyday conversation ... Readers may turn to the book for contemplation or a much-needed laugh as they themselves continue the unavoidable journey.”

Publishers Weekly

“Beautifully written, original, deeply insightful, often laugh-out-loud witty, and on not a few occasions (despite the author's curmudgeonly persona) a moving and affecting book.”

—Andrew Stark, Professor of Strategic Management, the University of Toronto

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University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks