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The Prime of Life

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James Baillie, CC/public domain
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The Life and Age of Man-Stages of Man's Life, from the Cradle to the Grave

For centuries, people thought of their lives as passing through distinct stages. A child became an adult and then an elder. That middle stage, adulthood, was regarded as the prime of life. But historian Steven Mintz says that way of thinking is “profoundly misleading.” Human development, he says, is an ongoing process, one with peaks and troughs rather than simply steps up and down life’s stairway. Mintz joins us Monday to explore how what it means to grow up has fundamentally changed.

Steven Mintz is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin Executive Director of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning. His books include Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood [Amazon|Indiebound] and, his newest, The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood [Amazon|Indiebound].

  • Listen to our 2005 conversation (rebroadcast in 2007) with Steven Mintz about his book Huck's Raft. Find it here.