Merchants of Immortality: Chasing the Dream of Human Life Extension

Hall, Stephen

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Treatise

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin
  • Date of entry: Nov-20-2003
  • Last revised: Sep-01-2006


An extraordinary phenomenon began to emerge a century or so ago, which, as it proceeded, allowed us a glimpse into what a society would look like when most of its members, rather than a select few, lived to, or more precisely, near, the limit of the human lifespan. Now we are facing the possibility of extending the upper limit of the human lifespan. How we live within this new world will be the result of numerous individual as well as corporate (in its fullest sense--business, professional societies, religious organizations, political bodies) decisions.

Stephen Hall, through compelling and clear writing takes us behind the scenes and into the lives and labs of the researchers and entrepreneurs who are seeking to slow down, stop, or reverse the aging process--those who intend to bring about, if not actual, then practical immortality. Figuring prominently throughout the book are Leonard Hayflick, early pioneering researcher on aging cells, and the charismatic (and former creationist) researcher-entrepreneur, Michael West. Rounding out the narrative are commentaries by noted ethicists and the chronicling of the political responses to these scientific and business developments, especially in regard to stem cell research.


A wide audience should find this book fascinating and helpful. Hall has the ability to speak to both health care professionals and the general (and usually less scientifically-oriented) public.


Houghton Mifflin

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