Middle Age: A Natural History by David Bainbridge - review by Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart

Halfway There

Middle Age: A Natural History


Portobello Books 317pp £14.99

David Bainbridge describes himself as a vet from Suffolk, who ‘has a belly, eschews reading glasses, drives a sports car and seems not to have heard of clichés’. He is a strong believer in evolutionary biology: the science that seeks to explain that we are the way we are because of Darwinian causes and effects. Some might dispute that human beings are subject to such things any more, as other animals are, since we are complex, supranatural creatures with things called culture, science, and possibly free will. Nevertheless, Bainbridge’s evolutionary perspective offers many consolations to those of us around forty – or even a bit beyond. 

He argues that middle age in human beings is ‘quite unlike the middle of any other animal’s life’. It is certainly not old, nor even the beginning of a gentle if dignified decline; it is, without question, the peak and plateau of one’s life. You might think that ageing in

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