The Despair That’s Killing White, Middle-Aged Americans

En español | For decades, the death rate among all groups of Americans has been steadily declining, thanks to advances in medicine and quality of life. But 15 years ago, that trend suddenly reversed for one group: white Americans ages 45 to 54. In what a new study termed “an epidemic of despair,” two Princeton economists find that suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse are driving up deaths among less-educated, middle-aged, white Americans — some of it due to job loss and financial …

For Many Veterans, the Battles Don’t End With the War

It seems so easy. We pass a veteran in uniform in an airport or on the street and we nod and say, “Thank you for your service.” It is a gracious greeting that is much appreciated by these men and women who have fought or stood bravely for the ideals of freedom for which America stands. But the fact is that, though veterans respond in kind to appreciation, many have brought the battlefield home with them in various ways. >> …

One More Thing to Stress About: Midlife Stress and Your Brain

After the alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m., each day brings a new set of challenges: deadlines and responsibility at work, AP history homework, French quizzes, soccer carpools, meetings at school, dogs that need to be walked and a hardworking husband who is rarely home before 8 p.m. My mother died in February after a difficult illness, and still I sometimes wake in the middle of the night in grief and panic. Add to that list a new study to …

Woman on Fire: Louise Penny Hits #1

How should a red-blooded American editor react when the Canadian queen of the murder mystery throws herself in his lap? If you’re me (left) and the setting is New York’s Book Expo last June, you get over your shock fast enough to plant a big, sloppy kiss on novelist Louise Penny’s cheek (see mortifying evidence below). Book buyers did much the same thing on Sunday the 15th, when they elevated Penny’s ninth Inspector Gamache thriller — the cerebral and satisfying …

The Generation Gap: Sometimes a Great Notion!

Three years ago, magazine writer Katie Hafner’s family was in turmoil. Her mother was 77 and at loose ends, cast adrift by her husband’s incipient dementia (he had moved back in with his family of origin). Her daughter, Zoe, was an impressionable 16 and still reeling from the 2009 death of her father (Hafner’s husband, Matt). And as a 51-year-old widow, Hafner herself was eager to resolve some long-standing conflicts with her mother: abandonment and estrangement, for starters. Wouldn’t housing …

Dr. James West: The Transplant Pioneer Who Helped Others to Get Sober

Dr. James West would have earned a spot in medical history solely on the basis of his signature achievement as a surgeon. In 1950, West was part of the team at a Chicago-area hospital that was responsible for the first successful human kidney transplant (in this case, into Ruth Tucker, who was in danger of dying from polycystic kidney disease). Drugs to suppress the immune system and prevent it from rejecting a transplanted organ didn’t yet exist, so the transplant …