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Review: The Age of Anxiety

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Now I have to admit that lately, I have been reading about books a lot more than I have been reading books. This has led to the creation of a little booklet with a list of titles I must one day purchase and read. I have even come up with a little colour-code depending on how soon I wish to read the book.

The review I am sharing with you today isn’t even mine – I have yet to read the book, but it sounds fascinating enough for me to want to share its review with you all. On the one hand, it would be fun for some of you to already have read it by the time I review it (yes, it’s one of those books) and, on the other hand, if someone has already read it and hated it, I can perhaps be forewarned and not waste time, money and muscles (carrying books him, you know) on a book that isn’t worth it.

From The Oprah Magazine (January 2009 issue), here is a review for The Age of Anxiety: A History of America’s Turbulent Affair with Tranquilizers:

Andrea Tone’s thoughtful, timely, and evenhanded narrative (…) locates the vertiginious rise, fall, and reascension of tranquilizers from Miltown to Xanax inside the complex sociohistorical context of the second half of the 20th century. (…) Most importantly, Tone asks the imperative questions: To what extent have pharmaceutical companies pathologized problems that are simply the normal vagaries of life? In the absence of well-placed ads, how many Americans would identify social anxiety as a disorder requiring pharmacology? Are Xanax and its predecessors serving only to keep us from changing situationally unhappy lives? As one physician said, “It takes 30 seconds to write a prescription for Valium but 30 minutes to explain why a patient shouldn’t have it.” Tone’s study suggest that might be time well spent.

This reads like a real-life, scientific, thoughtful and thought-provoking government conspiracy à la X-files. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book, which might make its way a little higher in the pile of readings I have.

Pile which I should really get back to.

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