Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer (Hardcover)

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“Offers a useful reminder of the role of modern science in fundamentally transforming all of our lives.” —President Barack Obama (on Twitter)

“An important book.” —Steven Pinker, The New York Times Book Review

Now also a PBS documentary series: the surprising story of how humans gained what amounts to an extra life, from the bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Where Good Ideas Come From

As a species we have doubled our life expectancy in just one hundred years. All the advances of modern life—the medical breakthroughs, the public health institutions, the rising standards of living—have given us each about twenty thousand extra days on average. There are few measures of human progress more astonishing than our increased longevity.
This book is Steven Johnson’s attempt to understand where that progress came from. How many of those extra twenty thousand days came from vaccines, or the decrease in famines, or seatbelts? What are the forces that now keep us alive longer? Behind each breakthrough lies an inspiring story of cooperative innovation, of brilliant thinkers bolstered by strong systems of public support and collaborative networks.

But it is not enough simply to remind ourselves that progress is possible. How do we avoid decreases in life expectancy as our public health systems face unprecedented challenges? What current technologies or interventions that could reduce the impact of future crises are we somehow ignoring?

A study in how meaningful change happens in society, Extra Life is an ode to the enduring power of common goals and public resources. The most fundamental progress we have experienced over the past few centuries has not come from big corporations or start-ups. It has come, instead, from activists struggling for reform; from university-based and publicly funded scientists sharing their findings open-source-style; and from nonprofit agencies spreading new innovations around the world.

About the Author

Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of thirteen books, including Where Good Ideas Come From, Farsighted, and The Ghost Map. He’s the host and cocreator of the Emmy-winning PBS/BBC series How We Got to Now, and the host of the podcast American Innovations. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Marin County, California, with his wife and three sons.

Praise For…

Praise for Extra Life:

“Fascinating.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Offers a useful reminder of the role of modern science in fundamentally transforming all of our lives.” —President Barack Obama (on Twitter)

“Fascinating story.” —Fareed Zakaria on Fareed Zakaria GPS

“To call this timely would be something of an understatement.” —The Toronto Star 
“Extra Life could not be timelier.” —Science Magazine

“[Extra Life] gives important insight into the history of a few specific leaps and bounds we’ve made as a species to outwit disease, famine and even the safety threats posed by our own inventions.” —Discover Magazine

“Johnson is a fine storyteller. . . . Extra Life is an important book.” —Steven Pinker, The New York Times Book Review

“A surprising look at why humans are living longer. . . Entertaining, wide-ranging, and—in light of COVID-19—particularly timely.” —Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525538851
ISBN-10: 0525538852
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021
Pages: 320
Language: English