‘By the simple virtue of being male, I have less chance each day to see another sunrise,’ laments Richard Bribiescas near the beginning of How Men Age. This is a dark thought to leave hanging in the air, yet he gently brightens the mood over the subsequent chapters of this charming book.
Yes, this is a book about getting old. I once told someone in the publishing industry that I wanted to write a book about middle age, only to be advised, ‘Oh, no one wants to read a book about that sort of thing – it’s far too depressing.’ Well, not only has Bribiescas, a professor of anthropology at Yale, decided to tackle the topic of ageing and death, but he has also chosen to focus on men. Nowadays, many of us have an instinctive lack of sympathy for older men, but this book might almost convince us to embrace them (not literally, obviously). Middle-aged and older men do, it must be admitted, have a lot to answer for. Yet the centuries of patriarchy, wars and male privilege, Bribiescas argues, have an upside. He makes a good case that there is something unusual about ageing