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June 7, 1976

How to Live to Be 100: The Life-Style of the People of the Caucasus

JAMA. 1976;235(23):2542. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260490058031

Despite its misleading title, this is a serious, significant book. The author, professor of anthropology at Hunter College, speaks Russian and was invited by the Soviet government to do anthropological fieldwork in the Caucasus. While there, she became interested in the many healthy, vigorous centenarians living in the mountain villages. With help from Soviet gerontologists and ethnographers, she studied the old people, their families, their way of life and then wrote this interesting, informal account of her observations.

Although in most of the world few people live to be 100 years of age, and those who do are usually feeble, there are at least three places where many live and work well beyond the 100-year mark—the Andes of Ecuador, the Caucasus, and the land of the Hunzas (northern Pakistan and part of Sinkiang Province of China). Very little investigation of people in the latter area has been done, but the