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234 × 156 mm
256 pages
49 illustrations
01 Sep 2017

Secrets of the Centenarians What is it Like to Live for a Century and Which of Us Will Survive to Find Out? John Withington

In October 1995, French grandmother Jeanne Calment became, so far as we know, the oldest human being who has ever lived, when she reached the age of 120 years and 238 days. She went on to survive for nearly three more years. On the long journey to her record-breaking age, Calment acquired more and more companions. Centenarians are the fastest-growing section of the population. In Britain, there are more than ninety times as many as there were a hundred years ago. Secrets of the Centenarians delves into the curious reasons why their number is growing at such an incredible rate.

John Withington explores the factors that determine which of us will reach a century and which of us will fall by the wayside. Is it down to lifestyle or genes? Does where you live play a role? Is surviving to one hundred a boon or a bore? Finally, he explores whether, even if the number of centenarians keeps increasing, there remains a maximum life span beyond which we cannot survive.

Thoughtful, well-researched and highly entertaining, Secrets of the Centenarians reveals some of the most intriguing secrets of growing older.

‘Withington has been gathering research about centenarians since 1984, when he spearheaded a current-affairs series on 100-somethings for Britain’s ITV network. Today, this long-lived cohort is the fastest-growing segment of the population and will likely remain so for years to come. Along with wisdom on how to live a long life, Secrets looks at “blue zones,” global hot spots with a disproportionate number of centenarians; the upper limits of longevity; and a good overview of research on living a long life.’ – Toronto Star

‘Centenarians, like everyone else, are all different. In the end, there really is no way of telling whether we will be around when we are 100. But Withington’s investigation throws up real food for thought on a subject that must be of interest to us all.’ – The Oldie

‘enjoyable and well written . . . Using a journalistic tone, Withington looks at the history of exceptional human longevity, from Biblical oldster Methuselah to Britain’s celebrity fogey of the 17th century, Thomas Parr, before moving onto the recent surge, relatively speaking, in centenarians . . . filled with interesting facts and lively characters’ – Publishers Weekly

‘beautifully illustrated . . . There is so much in this book that will give multiple pointers for other researchers and the general reader will be inspired by the personal stories that are told.’ – Methodist Recorder

‘Packed with information, this is essential reading for anyone planning on getting a 100th birthday card from Her Majesty . . . dissects longevity brilliantly considering factors such as genetics, marriage, location and diet . . . Best case studies and anecdotes in one book!’ – Devon Life

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John Withington is an award-winning television reporter and producer based in London. He is the author of a number of books including Storm: Nature and Culture (Reaktion, 2016), London’s Disasters (2010) and A Disastrous History of the World (2008).