The Age of Anxiety
The Age of Anxiety
A History of America's Turbulent Affair with Tranquilizers
By Andrea Tone
Basic Books (AZ), Hardcover, 9780465086580, 298pp.
Publication Date: December 30, 2008
But Miltown became a sensationthe first psychotropic blockbuster in United States history. By 1957, Americans had filled 36 million prescriptions. Patients seeking made-to-order tranquility emptied drugstores, forcing pharmacists to post signs reading more Miltown tomorrow. The drug's financial success and cultural impact revolutionized perceptions of anxiety and its treatment, inspiring the development of other lifestyle drugs including Valium and Prozac.
In The Age of Anxiety, Andrea Tone draws on a broad array of original sourcesmanufacturers' files, FDA reports, letters, government investigations, and interviews with inventors, physicians, patients, and activiststo provide the first comprehensive account of the rise of America's tranquilizer culture. She transports readers from the bomb shelters of the Cold War to the scientific optimism of the Baby Boomers, to the just say no Puritanism of the late 1970s and 1980s.
A vibrant history of America's long and turbulent affair with tranquilizers, The Age of Anxiety casts new light on what it has meant to seek synthetic solutions to everyday angst.
“A fascinating history of our dependence on downers…. Thoughtful, timely, and evenhanded."
“Readable, informative account of how cultural, economic and political forces have shaped the way Americans address anxiety…. Untangles the variety of complex factors that have shaped Americans’ increasing use of tranquilizers amid conflicting attitudes toward them.”
New York Post
“Very accessible and well-researched.”
“[A] lively and thoughtful history of tranquilizers…. [Tone] is a diligent researcher, and she deftly covers the tangle of historical, medical, legal and cultural issues here without lapsing into jargon – no easy feat with a subject like this.”
“[A] smart and crisp history of American tranquilizer use.”
New England Journal of Medicine
“A superb history that illustrates which cultural groups embraced tranquilizers, how these drugs were initially wildly popular but were subsequently rejected, and the rise of SSRIs as their replacements…. Informative and intriguing.”
“Excellent book…. A strong historical account of the most important topic of our interior lives – and noninterior as well.... Great reporting and incisive treatment of the origins of the modern neurosis industry."
“The Age of Anxiety, Andrea Tone’s revelatory history of tranquilizers in America, complicates the usual tale of patriarchal oppression, in which greedy pharmaceutical companies profit by keeping housewives placid and subservient…. Without minimizing the hazards of tranquilizers, Tone suggests that the backlash against them has caused more harm than the uncritical embrace that preceded it. She also shows that a drug’s reputation is a function of culture as much as chemistry.”
The National Catholic Reporter
“[A] captivating account of the development and use of medications in the treatment of anxiety in the United States…. [Tone] presents a carefully researched and thoughtful narrative…. The Age of Anxiety serves as a cautionary tale as to how social and political structures can overshadow scientific data in professional and public discourse about medical treatments.”