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The Age of Anxiety: A History of America's Turbulent Affair with Tranquilizers
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The Age of Anxiety: A History of America's Turbulent Affair with Tranquilizers

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Anxious Americans have increasingly pursued peace of mind through pills and prescriptions. In 2006, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that 40 million adult Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder in any given year: more than double the number thought to have such a disorder in 2001. Anti-anxiety drugs are a billion-dollar business. Yet as recently as 1955 ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 30th 2008 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Initially this appears to be a very scholarly book on the American view of anxiety and a pharmacological history of tranquilizers. But the book misses on several counts. While the author spends a great deal of time on the women's movement, she never makes the call as to whether she believes women are more prone to anxiety or hysteria, or whether they are legitimately depressed and anxious as a repressed group in society. And she completely misses the importance of the role insurance companies pl ...more
Kim Fay
It's been an interesting year, researching anti-anxiety drugs for my new novel. Beating out "Happy Pills in America," "The Age of Anxiety" is the best book I've found so far on Miltown, the precursor to Valium and the granddaddy of all anti-anxiety meds. At one time in the 1950s it was the most prescribed pill in America. I liked this book more than Happy Pills because it was not written in such an academic (dry) manner (even though it is clearly a scholarly, well-researched book). "The Age of A ...more
A nice overview of the development and social history of the new tranquilizers of the 50s and 60s (Miltown, Valium, Librium, Klonopin, etc.) and how they shaped American attitudes towards mental health and the concept of addiction.

Tone does an excellent job of covering the development, personal stories, cultural attitudes, and marketing strategies surrounding these drugs. I appreciate how she was able to smoothly integrate all these approaches into a quite understandable narrative.

Two of her th
Tone has provided us with a readable and scholarly narrative of the creation of anxiety as a diagnosis and its relationship to the medications used to treat it. In addition to her command of the technical literature she conveys cultural significance of anxiety over the last sixty years with clarity. I especially appreciated the biographical material, based on interviews, on Frank Berger (Miltown) and Leo Sternbach (Librium). Although brief, her descriptions of the place of benzodiazapines in Fra ...more
Arwen Downs
This was an enlightening book, covering not only the history of the United States' great love of tranquilizers of all kinds, but the development of said drugs and the correspondence of an overwhelming national feeling of anxiety with the rise of tranquilizer use.

In addition, Tone's writing style is entertaining and her objectivity when dealing with such a polarizing subject as psychopharmacology made the book ring true in a way a more damning or effusive book would not.

All-in-all, a perfect nonf
Before Valium, there was Librium. Before that, there was Miltown, the first modern tranquilizer, the first move beyond the old barbiturates.

Tone details America’s love affair with these magic pills which, stereotypes of overworked housewives aside, were first most eagerly adopted by CEOs and other corner suite persons.

There’s no earthshaking findings here, just a good overview of a period in American history.
It's an easy read which breaks a difficult subject down to social and economic aspects of the problem painting the general situation and the influences which had the most effect on the "problem".
The language is clear and effective the examples very descriptive.
The book also gives good leads for those who want to examine the culture of tranquilizers in the US further.
Andea Tone supplies good insight on past history of Tranquilizers and how the drug companies promoted them
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