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Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever [Hardcover]

Ray Kurzweil , Terry Grossman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 28 2009 1605299561 978-1605299563
In 2004, Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, MD, published Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. Their groundbreaking book marshaled thousands of scientific studies to make the case that new developments in medicine and technology will allow us to radically extend our life expectancies and slow down the aging process. Soon, our notion of what it means to be a 55-year-old will be as outdated as an eight-track tape player.
 
TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever presents a practical, enjoyable program so that readers can live long enough (and remain healthy long enough) to take full advantage of the biotech and nanotech advances that have already begun and will be occurring at an accelerating pace during the years ahead. To help readers remember the nine key components of the program, Ray and Terry have arranged them into a mnemonic:
 
Talk with your doctor
Relaxation
Assessment
Nutrition
Supplementation
Calorie reduction
Exercise
New technologies
Detoxification
 
This easy-to-follow program will help readers transcend the boundaries of our genetic legacy and live long enough to live forever.


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Review

"Ray Kurzweil knows more about the future of technology than anyone on the planet. If you want to have the greatest chance of seeing the next century, read TRANSCEND today." —Dean Ornish, MD, founder and president, Preventive Medicine Research Institute; clinical professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco; author, The Spectrum and Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease
 
"Kurzweil and Grossman have created another breathtaking book—a concise yet comprehensive guide to staying healthy and living life to the fullest. This visionary and must-read book also provides a brilliant and entertaining view of our transcendent future if we follow the TRANSCEND program."—Dean Kamen, physicist and inventor of the first wearable insulin pump, HomeChoice portable dialysis machine, IBOT Mobility System, and Segway Human Transporter, and recipient of the National Medal of Technology
 
"TRANSCEND provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-read review of the latest scientific and medical research related to the process of aging and age-related diseases, which will eventually affect all of us. Ray and Terry present an insightful view of the remarkable future that awaits us through growth of technology, while providing the motivation today to stay in shape to enjoy this future. This extremely well researched book provides a vision and roadmap for keeping both body and mind healthy so that we can take advantage of future advances to prolong healthy lifespan." —Ron Kahn, MD, Mary K. Iacocca Professor, Harvard Medical School; former president and former director of research, Joslin Diabetes Center

About the Author

Ray Kurzweil, author of The Singularity Is Near and several other best-selling books, is a world-renowned scientist and recipient of the National Medal of Technology, 17 honorary doctorates, awards from three US presidents, and many other honors.
Terry Grossman, MD, is coauthor with Ray of Fantastic Voyage. He is the medical director of Grossman Wellness Center and is an internationally sought expert and practitioner in the area of longevity medicine.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Same Advice, Different Book Jan. 30 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was an okay book, but I've read this stuff in other books of the same category. One thing I really liked were the recipes
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About as good as it gets Oct. 11 2010
Format:Hardcover
This is a book well worth reading (and paying for). The in-depth version came out a few years ago as 'Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever' and with Transcend most of the speculation about future technologies (MOST) has been cut out, and the focus instead is on "Bridge One", i.e., getting your frickin' act together TODAY. The themes are fairly obvious (exercise, stop eating crap, don't chug coffee every day), but the greatness is in the many details and specific recommendations (and substitutions for all those terrible foods and habits you enjoy indulging in). I have read all of Ray Kurzweil's books now (except his one on managing Diabetes, since it doesn't exactly concern me) and every one has been enlightening and provocative.

The book is clearly aimed at the middle aged, those who (according to the authors) have the most to gain and who are at the most risk, but even if you're my age (26 years old) you can get a lot of benefit from following this book, especially in the nutrition section. I've found many guys (and girls) my age are fairly active physically and intellectually, but because we haven't really begun to feel the effects of aging yet, diet is of very little interest to us. I have good friends who smoke regularly because: "So what man, I can run 10 miles!" This book makes it clear what is going on subtly, behind the scenes as you pump your body full of toxins and bad food, daily!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Accessible Overview June 7 2009
Format:Hardcover
This is an easy read and summarizes a lot of the material from Fantastic Voyage. Although there is not much new here it will perhaps create more converts to the premise that radical life extension is possible; when a critical mass of people have this understanding then the momentum should pick up (exponentially:)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have! March 30 2010
By C. Fehr
Format:Hardcover
On a chance I came across Kurzweil in one of his speeches online and found myself interested. I had read about Fantastic Voyage and Age of Spiritual Machines. I had also read about alot of people poking fun at him for his "extreme" routine to live longer. I decided to look into it myself and got this book.... I am a major fan now. I have yet to come across such a complete how to guide on adding years to your life. This man is a genius and Terry is a brilliant as well. Seriously this book is awesome and very reasonably priced for adding years to your life.I have only been doing 25% of what it suggested this last month and I feel great I just hope I can convince my family and friends to give it a try.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  80 reviews
997 of 1,011 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TRANSCEND IS a good plan for living well... May 25 2009
By Bob Blum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
if not forever.

I stressed over what grade to give Transcend and ultimately gave it an Amazon **** grade (say, B+). Why that high? Why only that high?

First, I'm an MD, PhD with 30 years of clinical practice
and 10 years of medical research. (Google bobblum.com or just "Bob Blum")
Ray Kurzweil was a classmate of mine at MIT in the sixties.
I just met Terry at the Foresight Convergence Conference in 2008.

I had read Fantastic Voyage, their first joint effort, several times and always had a hard time deciding whether to recommend it to friends and colleagues. 80% of Fantastic Voyage was first rate information. 20% was highly controversial, fringe medicine (alkaline water and obscure supplements).

I complained to Ray in a letter expressing concern about his personal health - 250 pills a day is just too many, portending too many interactions - and also to Terry. My advice was to please label or rate the scientific evidence that forms a basis for each of their drug recommendations. Terry told me that their forthcoming book TRANSCEND would solve the problem. It DOES. Most of that controversial 20% has been surgically removed. Gone is much of the pseudoscience.

What's left follows closely (and expands) the world according to Drs. Dean Ornish, Andrew Weil, and many other admirable health writers.

The book summarizes the best of current medical advice on how to stay healthy. If you're not a health professional and have not read many books like this I would strongly recommend it. So, for most of you that's my advice... buy the book (and live by it).

Now, I'll be more specific.
TRANSCEND is a mnemonic for their health recommendations: Talk to your doctor, Relaxation, Assessment, Nutrition, Supplements, Calorie Reduction, Exercise, New Tech, Detoxification. That's a worthy list.

In re: Talk to your doctor and Assessments. Much of this is a list of tests to request, and as they rightly state, many of these tests will not be covered by insurance. This means you will have hundreds of dollars in unreimbursed expenses for tests of unproven efficacy.

During my meeting with Terry at Convergence he emphasized the importance of carotid ultrasound and coronary calcium scoring for men over 45 or women over 55. I totally concur. There is nothing like seeing the calcium plaque in your arteries to put the fear of the Lord into you.
However, for many of the other tests (neurotransmitter levels, mineral analysis, digestive function, eg) it is unclear how often, if ever, the tests should be done. With the country's economy in tatters and healthcare already climbing toward 20% of GDP some of these tests will always be for the well-to-do, worried well.

In re: Nutrition. I bristled when I saw that 66 pages were devoted to low fat recipes, since (IMHO) this is usually a worthless page-filler. However, I've changed my mind on this. In this era when so many foods that are readily available are condemned (most fats, much of animal protein, fast carbs) readers want to know "ok, so what DO I eat?"
I actually made their soy yogurt Waldorf Salad, the quinoa, and the zucchini and have lost 3 pounds from my usually cerebrotonic, ectomorphic frame. Basically, folks, this is where to get your vitamins and minerals. As Mark Bittman (NY Times Food Critic) says, "it's the carrot, not the beta carotene." I single out for especial praise their Transcend Food Pyramid - they nailed it - veggies and water are the base.

In re: Supplements. This is the arena in which Ray and Terry were particularly on thin ice in Fantasic Voyage. Ray's mammoth daily consumption of supplements to "reprogram his biochemistry" is notorious. I was delighted to see that their public recommendations for supplements have been greatly toned down. Whether this reflects a change in their own personal consumption is not stated. Since I'm a great fan of Ray's proselytizing on behalf of the Singularity, I hope it does. When I asked Aubrey (Engineered Negligible Senescence) de Grey (he of the Methusaleh beard) how many pills per day he takes (in contrast to Ray K's 250), he said "none. My wife is a good cook."

And now, here's the key problem - no discussion of methodology for arriving at medical truth. It's called evidence-based medicine -
Wiki it - and it needs to be a core piece of every book like this. Inquiring readers want to know, "should I take Resveratrol or alpha-lipoic-acid? How about CoQ10 or calorie restriction? Should I take vitamin E even though large clinical trials indicate that it might contribute to my death?

The hundreds of references that were in Fantastic Voyage were a good thing - they must be there. Furthermore, it needs to be absolutely clear that many of the supplements that are still on their recommended list have only weak, inconclusive, or contradictory evidence. That Ray and Terry (and Andrew Weil) sell supplements is an obvious conflict of interest. They owe it to their readers to present all the evidence not merely that which supports the consumption of particular supplements.

Again, I recommend this book, especially for the lay reader, since I endorse the TRANSCEND plan. My key reservation is that the presentation of evidence (con as well as pro) needs to be expanded and better referenced.

Addendum (February, 2012): My personal diet and nutrition recommendations have departed from
what Ray and Terry recommend. Please see my essay "Optimal Nutrition: Are Fats Killers or Saviors?"
on bobblum.com. That article includes scores of links to videos and pdfs on the web. Everything is free;
I sell nothing.

In another article on my website I also addressed the key issue of clinical evidence:
how do medical scientists/ statisticians determine "Does Drug X Really Work?"
Also see my short piece entitled "Transcend Drugs!" that shows exactly how the Natural Standard
(THE authority on supplements) rates the supplements that Ray and Terry recommend in Transcend.
78 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book On Longevity With Real Practical Information April 28 2009
By Thomas J. Quinlan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Note: I read an advanced uncorrected proof. My copy was not entirely finished - it was missing a lot of diagrams, and had some notes from the authors to the publishers. However, the content (actual text) was entirely done. See below for the review.

*****

It's nice to see that while the authors of the book both have products and services that they sell in conjunction with the topics in the book, they barely mention those - there is no upselling like in a lot of other books. If you're worried about that, rest assured it is not an issue.

The first thing to note about this book is that in the first part, a lot of it is repetitive from "Fantastic Voyage". Where "Fantastic Voyage" was filled with technical detail and a thousands of scientific data points to back up the claims, this book does not have that level of thoroughness. However, in many instances that's no longer necessary; a lot of the data points from "Fantastic Voyage" have already been proven in the ensuing years - most of the information is available online from independent sources. There is enough new information to make it worth reading, but those who've read "Fantastic Voyage" will find that they recognise a fair amount of the material. Of course, if you haven't read "Fantastic Voyage", you will find it all new, and well worth the introduction to the science behind physiology, nutrition, and medicine.

The second part of the contains action steps that people can take to actually improve their lives. There are nine - the book's title, "Transcend", is a mnemonic for remembering the steps: Talk with your doctor, Relaxation, Assessment, Nutrition, Supplements, Caloric restriction, Exercise, New technologies, and Detoxification. With regards to each, there are practical steps that you can take (ideally in cooperation with your doctor). The items are useful - they discuss tests you can ask your doctor for (and how to interpret them); supplementation and how it improves well-being; healthy recipes that you can make with reasonable ingredients in your kitchen; and even exercises you can do using resistance bands in your living room.

It's the second part of the book that really separates this book from the last one. It was highly interesting to read the last one, and provided a lot of scientific information. This one provides that, as well as practical information, and can be used to put into place steps that you can use to extend your life significantly.
56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Actionable Advice for Healthier Living May 25 2009
By Dale R. Seng - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is the more practical version of "Fantastic Voyage", the duo's previous work. Practical in that it provides specific recommendations for a wide array of activities that are all required to live well (exercise, eating right, vitamins and supplements, etc). When I say "practical", I mean they've dedicated many, many pages to things like how to strength train with resistance bands, and how to cook specific healthy food entrees. I would say it's not quite as detailed in the treatment of vitamins and supplements as the previous book, but more mainstream in that regard. And there are enough words around the "why" so you feel comfortable making the investments in time and money to implement the advice.

The book uses an interesting "talk from the future" technique which I found increased readability. Periodically a reader/author dialog is presented where the authors might answer the reader from a perspective that is 25 or 35 years in the future!

I was a bit puzzled by the persistent name dropping of Dean Ornish in this book, since he was (is?) basically wrong about eliminating nearly all fat from the diet. This book says 40% fat is okay as long as it's the right kind of fat. Of course these authors have zero tolerance for trans fat. And in alignment with Gary Taubes ("Good Calories Bad Calories"), these authors agree that refined carbs are addicting and about as close to poison as you can legally sell.

There's a lot more in this book that I have not mentioned; it touches lightly on basic things, like cutting glycemic load to loose weight, all the way to caloric restriction, and of course vitamins and supplements and how they can help. And there are many other topics to round-out the current thinking on practices that enhance longevity. If you want a basic guide for what you can do now to live a healthier life, I'd say you can take pretty much everything in this book without worrying too much about wasting your time and money on hype and things that won't help you reach that goal.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About as good as it gets March 16 2010
By Kieran Fox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a book well worth reading (and paying for). The in-depth version came out a few years ago as 'Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever' and with Transcend most of the speculation about future technologies (MOST) has been cut out, and the focus instead is on "Bridge One", i.e., getting your frickin' act together TODAY. The themes are fairly obvious (exercise, stop eating crap, don't chug coffee every day), but the greatness is in the many details and specific recommendations (and substitutions for all those terrible foods and habits you enjoy indulging in). I have read all of Ray Kurzweil's books now (except his one on managing Diabetes, since it doesn't exactly concern me) and every one has been enlightening and provocative.

The book is clearly aimed at the middle aged, those who (according to the authors) have the most to gain and who are at the most risk, but even if you're my age (26 years old) you can get a lot of benefit from following this book, especially in the nutrition section. I've found many guys (and girls) my age are fairly active physically and intellectually, but because we haven't really begun to feel the effects of aging yet, diet is of very little interest to us. I have good friends who smoke regularly because: "So what man, I can run 10 miles!" This book makes it clear what is going on subtly, behind the scenes as you pump your body full of toxins and bad food, daily!

Because of this book and Fantastic Voyage, I have (over the last couple of years) become a vegetarian (from being a lifelong, HEAVY carnivore), gone from being a total coffee fiend to drinking about one espresso per day and mostly just green tea, begun to appreciate the value of at least some supplements and vitamins in pill form, and started reading a lot more extensively about future technological developments and the real potential of what we can do and experience if we live healthfully for the next 30-50 years. I originally bought these both for my 60-something father, but read them myself too, and I can say not only that I feel better but indeed I feel at 26 to adopt these measures I am WAY ahead of the game.

Get it, read it, consider it - and if you find it makes good sense, follow it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accurate and Silly Mixed Together Feb. 19 2011
By Allan M. Lees - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all, this is definitely a book worth reading for anyone who is interested in improving or maintaining good health as they age. The authors are correct when they state that most doctors are unaware of the benefits of supplementation; in fact this is an understatement: many doctors are totally clueless with regards to maintaining health. Doctors are trained to diagnose diseases from manifest symptoms - all the talk of preventive medicine is, for the most part, empty noise. So this is a valuable guide to supplementation and rudimentary physical exercise.

Where the book falls down, in my opinion, is when it mixes in a "view from the future" that is oriented around whizzy new technologies. The idea is that we'll develop tools to compensate for many of the side-effects of aging and these will, ultimately, permit us to live forever. Aubrey de Gray is well-known for promoting this mechanical view of longevity - the idea being that we only need to live long enough to reach the next breakthrough, which in turn will enable us to live long enough to reach the subsequent break-through, and so on. This is the "car repair" view of health whereby worn-out parts are replaced sequentially so as to maintain the car, even though over time no original parts remain.

Problem is, biochemistry is far more complex than auto repair. We know so very little about the human body that the assumptions made by all futurists are essentially risible. At best we might be able to prolong life into the second century but the fact is that neurodegeneration would remain a major problem. Visions of Swift's Struldbruggs flash immediately to mind.

Perhaps the real focus should not be on life extension but on the extension of function throughout life. In other words, instead of living to 80 with the last 15 years increasingly unpleasant and infirm, live to 80 with all your functions and faculties performing near peak. It's quality of life that matters, not just duration.

The authors' recommendations about the importance of exercise, good nutrition, and good lifestyle habits are all spot-on. Sad thing is, of course, that so few people will follow these recommendations.
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