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Abrams Press
438 pages

The Oldest Cure in the World

Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting

When should we eat, and when should we not?


The answers to these simple questions, as journalist Steve Hendricks shows in his irresistibly readable exploration of fasting, are not at all what you might expect. Stop eating for long enough, and you’ll set in motion cellular repairs that may slow aging as well as prevent and reverse a variety of diseases, including diabetes and hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and epilepsy, asthma and schizophrenia, and much more. Astoundingly, fasting has even been proven to make chemotherapy better at killing cancer while protecting patients from the worst of chemo’s side effects.


Hendricks also takes us on a tour of the surprisingly expansive history of fasting, a chronicle as rich in telling detail as it is comprehensive in its scope, from the ancient Chinese woodcarver who fasted to still his mind and “to forget I have four limbs,” to the unlikely nineteenth-century doctor whose stupendous forty-day fast on a New York stage caused a stir around the world and inaugurated the modern era of therapeutic fasting that we’re still living in.


Threaded throughout are Hendricks’s own adventures in fasting, by turns playful and moving. One of these, his fast of twenty days, helped launch the recent wave of interest in fasting when an account of it was first published a decade ago. The lasting achievement of The Oldest Cure in the World is to guide us through a terrain we thought we knew well—our own bodies and when to feed them—but whose secrets we’re only beginning to unlock, with great promise for health and longevity.

In addition to the North American and UK paper, ebook, and audiobook editions (published in 2022), a Spanish edition, La cura más antigua del mundo, (published in 2023) is available from Gaia Ediciones.

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“An illuminating exploration of the rich and varied history—and myriad health benefits—of fasting. . . . Mr. Hendricks, a freelance reporter, is a deft stylist (fatty foods are coronary and gastric assailants; the marketing labels for a health fad are linguistic casseroles), and he excels at describing the experience of going without food.”

Wall Street Journal

Hendricks’s book is a remarkable blend of authoritative history, illuminating science, and endearing storytelling. In The Oldest Cure in the World, Hendricks gives us the wonders of fasting—too long neglected by doctors and scientists, too often misunderstood by most of us, yet so potent a therapy—with marvelous clarity, page-turning crispness, and appealing humanity.

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee

Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

“Fasting, long regarded as being ‘on the wrong side of respectability,’ deserves serious consideration as a medical treatment, argues journalist Hendricks (The Unquiet Grave) in this thought-provoking survey. Hendricks writes that the practice has been shown to help with illnesses as varied as asthma, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines. But it’s ‘simply too counterintuitive to think not eating could make you healthier,’ and the medical community has yet to embrace it. That’s a mistake, Hendricks insists: it’s cheaper than drugs and has fewer side effects, and he touts it as an ‘astoundingly and variously useful’ method that’s been hiding in plain sight for millennia. The author weaves a fascinating personal narrative (fasting helped his idiopathic hypersomnia) with a comprehensive history of the practice, from prehistoric humans who fasted from necessity up to modern-day clinics that use it. While enthusiastic, Hendricks is careful not to oversell fasting’s benefits (there’s much it ‘cannot do, no matter how many incautious boosters say otherwise’), and he pulls no punches when highlighting flaws in research, as with studies that emphasize ‘profit rather than health.’ His levelheaded, irreverent approach and sharp reporting set the book apart. The result is a winning mix of captivating storytelling and fascinating science.”

Publishers Weekly

“Steve Hendricks set himself the Herculean task of weaving together the long history and deep science of fasting with his own revealing self-experiments—and has succeeded brilliantly in turning out a captivating tale. The Oldest Cure in the World is an engrossing tour de force and offers a bona fide strategy for slowing the aging process.”

Dan Buettner

#1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Blue Zones

Few people know that science has shown fasting is a key that unlocks ancient restorative systems and mobilizes some of the body’s most powerful regenerative mechanisms. In The Oldest Cure in the World, Steve Hendricks proves to be a master of explaining the multitude of benefits that various kinds of fasting can unleash. Fasting is a core part of my integrative cardiology practice. This book is a must read for those looking for a long healthspan.

Dr. Joel Kahn

Author of Your Whole Heart Solution

A September nominee for the Next Big Idea Club.

A Cure for Long COVID?

An extended essay, published as a free ebook, on the possibility of fasting to reverse long COVID and other post-viral syndromes.

Doctors at the world’s largest fasting clinic recently reported in a peer-reviewed journal that when their patients with long COVID fasted, their symptoms reversed. Steve Hendricks looks at the science of how fasting reverses similar diseases and why it might help post-viral sufferers. He also relates his own harrowing struggle with viral fallout and the fast that, he believes, reversed his symptoms. Download the free ebook here.

Unquiet Grave.jpg

Da Capo
512 pages

The Unquiet Grave

The FBI and the Struggle

for the Soul of Indian Country

One of the 100 best books of 2006.

Publishers Weekly


“Best of the Literary Crop”: one of 12 recommended nonfiction books for 2006.

Salt Lake Tribune

One of 36 recommended nonfiction reads for 2006.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

One of 100 noteworthy books for 2006.

Kansas City Star

“A detailed, exhaustive investigative account [from] the indefatigable Hendricks. . . . An eye-opening, often shocking narrative fueled by the author’s outrage.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Shocking . . . In its sweep, [The Unquiet Grave] is about the slow death of American Indian tribes across the United States, abetted by racist FBI agents, corrupt politicians, greedy lawyers and, to a shameful extent, many Indians themselves.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“The Unquiet Grave, a tautly written exposé, reads like a detective novel. . . . The abuses [are] disturbingly detailed.”

Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch


“This revelatory book is investigative journalism at its gutsiest, at its noblest. It is a documented portrait of the FBI as an un-American agency in its shafting of Native Americans. Must reading for anybody interested in our buried passages of American history.”

Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of

Hope Dies Last and The Good War

“An impressive and important book, thoroughly researched and very well written.”

Peter Matthiessen, National Book Award–winning

author of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse


“An excellent book that reopens the wounds of Wounded Knee—and that provides important new information for readers of Peter Matthiessen’s long-suppressed In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. . . . A blistering, important work.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Hendricks’s swift narrative is riddled with judicial travesties, coverups, vigilantism, COINTELPRO-style tactics, mounting paranoia and lawlessness on both sides. . . . Hendricks is careful throughout this harsh, heart-thumping account never to lose sight of the larger context.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)


The Unquiet Grave is a riveting anti-detective story in which the detectives—the FBI—are themselves investigated and their violations of the basic rights of Native Americans exposed. Few people know about this disturbing episode in our country’s recent past, but many should and will, thanks to Steve Hendricks’s fascinating book.”

Howard Zinn, author of

A People’s History of the United States

“With passion and elegance, Steve Hendricks has unearthed an ugly chapter in the FBI’s abusive history. Our hearts have been buried at Wounded Knee long enough. Dig ’em up and bury the FBI instead. Read this book.”

Jim Hightower, author of

Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush

W. W. Norton & Co.

317 pages

A Kidnapping in Milan

The CIA on Trial

“[A] real-life thriller [with] many well-drawn characters . . . skillfully crafted, highly disturbing.”

Chicago Tribune

“Steve Hendricks is a gifted writer as well as a dogged sleuth, a combination that turns this account—a journey through some of the darker mazes of the war on terror—into one of those rarities: an important story, excellently told.”

Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker staff writer

and author of The Fall of Baghdad

“Exceptionally well written and deeply reported—a gripping novel-like book that brilliantly reconstructs one of the darker episodes of the ‘war on terror.’ ”

Peter Bergen, CNN national security
analyst and author of Holy War, Inc.

“[A]n utterly fascinating account . . . This is a how-not-to book on tradecraft that should be read and heeded.”

Washington Times

Book club selection.

Vanity Fair’s Hot Type

US News & World Report’s Political Book Club


“If the first half of the book carries all the insider tradecraft and shifting alliances of a John le Carré spy novel, the second half of the book becomes a script for a pilot episode of ‘Law & Order: Milan’. . . . Much like le Carré, Hendricks builds his plot through a combination of biographies of multiple characters and cultural histories of multiple organizations. . . . before allowing them to clash in carefully rendered scenes of intense action. In less confident hands, these biographical and historical accounts might grow tedious, but each page carries enough surprising fact and artful phrase to carry the reader forward.”


“Hendricks’ writing is propulsive, even when he backtracks into historical footnotes to provide a well-rounded purview, and voraciously readable in a Graham Greene-ish sort of way. . . . A Kidnapping in Milan is white-knuckle intrigue, exemplary journalism and capricious history disguised as yet another true-crime spy tale. Certain sections are darkly funny, others understatedly gut-wrenching.”

Missoula Independent


“Hendricks knows the United States and Italy and how to write about one for readers in the other. His remarks on Italian culture are outdone only by his background on Muslim terrorism, his account of who this kidnapping victim was, and the inclusion of dialogue picked up by Italian wiretaps of terrorism suspects’ private conversations. But just as terrific reading are Hendricks’ histories of the practice of rendition, of the use of torture, of U.S.-Italian relations, of domestic Italian terrorism, and of modern Egypt. . . . The torture [Abu Omar] received is described in all of its almost unbearable detail, [but] believe it or not, most of this book is enjoyable.”


“Hendricks combines journalistic clarity with the structure of a detective novel in Kidnapping, giving his book the urgency of a modern thriller, all the more striking for its cold reality. The book is well-researched . . . but Kidnapping never reads as a dry recitation of facts or a ponderous series of analyses. . . . Guiding the narrative is a refined sense of moral outrage against the idea that dark deeds done in the dark make our world somehow safer.”

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