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Daring: My Passages

Daring: My Passages

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by Gail Sheehy

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The author of the classic New York Times bestseller Passages returns with her inspiring memoir—a chronicle of her trials and triumphs as a groundbreaking “girl” journalist in the 1960s, to iconic guide for women and men seeking to have it all, to one of the premier political profilers of modern times.

Candid, insightful, and


The author of the classic New York Times bestseller Passages returns with her inspiring memoir—a chronicle of her trials and triumphs as a groundbreaking “girl” journalist in the 1960s, to iconic guide for women and men seeking to have it all, to one of the premier political profilers of modern times.

Candid, insightful, and powerful, Daring: My Passages is the story of the unconventional life of a writer who dared . . . to walk New York City streets with hookers and pimps to expose violent prostitution; to march with civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland as British paratroopers opened fire; to seek out Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat when he was targeted for death after making peace with Israel.

Always on the cutting edge of social issues, Gail Sheehy reveals the obstacles and opportunities encountered when she dared to blaze a trail in a “man’s world.” Daring is also a beguiling love story of Sheehy’s tempestuous romance with and eventual happy marriage to Clay Felker, the charismatic creator of New York magazine. As well, Sheehy recounts her audacious pursuit and intimate portraits of many twentieth-century leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Presidents George H. W. and George W. Bush, and the world-altering attraction between Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Sheehy reflects on desire, ambition, and wanting it all—career, love, children, friends, social significance—and lays bare her major life passages: false starts and surprise successes, the shock of failures and inner crises; betrayal in a first marriage; life as a single mother; flings of an ardent, liberated young woman; her adoption of a second daughter from a refugee camp; marriage to the love of her life and their ensuing years of happiness, even in the shadow of illness.

Now stronger than ever, Sheehy speaks from hard-won experience to today’s young women. Her fascinating, no-holds-barred story is a testament to guts, resilience, smarts, and daring, and offers a bold perspective on all of life’s passages.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An overlong memoir by the investigative journalist and prolific author Sheehy (Passages in Caregiving; Sex and the Seasoned Woman, etc.) tracks four decades of her astonishing ability to catch America’s swiftly changing moods, from undercover operations in gynecology for the New York’s Herald Tribune and prostitution for New York magazine, to books on “pop psychology” and caregiving. She attended college (the first of the women in her Westchester family to do so) in the late 1950s , married early, and worked to put her husband through medical school. Sheehy had drive and chutzpah, asking her first boss—Mr. James Cash Penney of Manhattan’s JC Penney—if he paid the “girls the same as boys.” The gritty, testosterone-fueled world of journalism attracted her, and as a single mother of a young daughter, she moved from the women’s page of the Trib to Clay Felker’s brand-new New York magazine by the late 1960s, making her name swiftly within the ranks of the New Journalists (which included talents like Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, and Joan Didion) with a piece about Bobby Kennedy shortly after his assassination. Romancing the boss turned into a long, tumultuous relationship that eventually led to marriage. Sheehy and Felker became a New York power couple, hosting Henry Kissinger and David Frost for a memorable dinner over Peking duck in 1972, and later weathering the takeover of New York by Rupert Murdoch in 1976. Passages made Sheehy a wildly popular and bestselling author, followed by her groundbreaking work on menopause, The Silent Passage. Sheehy’s ponderous chronicle dwells on her uneven relationship with the ambitious, larger-than-life Felker, whom she nurtured through his death in 2008. There is so much spectacle in terms of a cultural record that the reader loses sight of Sheehy as the focus and heroine of her own life. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Sheehy is best known for Passages, a New York Times best seller about milestone moments in adult life that was named by the Library of Congress one of the ten most influential books of our times. Here's a reminder that she is also a veteran journalist who has served as contributing editor to Vanity Fair for three decades, won the New York Newswomen's Club Front Page Award seven times, and profiled everyone from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein—thus breaking ground for women in journalism. We also hear about her marriage to New York magazine creator Clay Felker. With a 125,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
A journalist recounts her risks, fears and triumphs. Author of 16 books, Vanity Fair contributing editor Sheehy (Passages in Caregiving, 2010, etc.) has made a career out of examining life stages. Passages (1976) stayed on the New York Times' best-seller list for three years, followed by Silent Passage (1993), New Passages (1995) and Understanding Men's Passages (1999). Passages in Caregiving was motivated by the last illness of her husband, publisher Clay Felker; now, she reflects on her own transitions in a brisk, gossipy narrative complete with handsome hero (Felker), villain (Rupert Murdoch), nail-biting adventures (Bloody Sunday, for one), scores of celebrities (including interview subjects Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Bobby Kennedy and Anwar Sadat) and famous friends (Gloria Steinem, Tom Wolfe and David Frost). Like Wolfe, Sheehy is a practitioner of New Journalism. "We treated the protagonists of nonfiction stories like characters in a novel," writes Sheehy. "What was their motivation?...What was it like living inside their reality?" The author reprises her own reality in three parts: the Pygmalion Years, when she was a young, ambitious journalist trying to establish her reputation and overcome editors' prejudices about women writers, whom they commonly assigned to stories about food and style; the Passages Years, when she was a star writer for, among many other venues, Felker's New York magazine, Helen Gurley Brown's Cosmopolitan and Tina Brown's Vanity Fair; and the Bonus Years, focused on Felker's cancer and Sheehy's gradual recovery from alcohol abuse and depression following his death. After Passages, Sheehy felt she had to "justify" that success with "an academic-level study." The result was Pathfinders (1981), about people who risked "choosing the less-traveled path." Raising a daughter on her own, adopting a Cambodian girl after visiting a refugee camp and helping to found the Women's Refugee Commission to advocate for survivors of genocide are among many reasons—aside from her career choices—why Sheehy, too, is one of those audacious pathfinders. Daring, the author amply shows in this spirited life story, defines her.
O: the Oprah Magazine
“Here, [Sheehy] looks back on her remarkable life with unflinching candor.”
Daring is an inspiring portrait of a resilient woman who fought hard to live an authentic life, and won.”
Gloria Steinem
“Daring by Gail Sheehy is the anecdotal life of a pioneering and hardworking journalist who plunges into everything with energy and curiosity. After a lifetime of writing about other people, she takes on the most difficult assignment - herself. It’s an irresistible read.”
Erica Jong
“Gail Sheehy’s work always combines the care of a scholar and the sensibility of a novelist. Her memoir is a thrilling read.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Ardent, approachable, forthright, and empathetic ... a riveting account of one woman’s exhilarating trajectory, a page-turning, powerhouse testament to resilience, perseverance, and hope.”
Entertainment Weekly
“[Sheehy’s] exuberance leaps off the page as she maps out her professional highs - interviews with world leaders, her best-seller Passages - against the backdrop of a failed first marriage and her decades-long relationship with New York magazine founder Clay Felker. A-”
Vanity Fair
“[R]emarkable ... a fascinating narrative with Gail’s voice, breathless and intense, as she tries to make sense of everything she’s done—her work, her travels, her wild giddy adventures, her sometimes intensely painful experiences.”
East Hampton Star
“Its familiarity captivates. ...The book is a thorough remembrance of [Sheehy’s] life . . . her entire life. And she’s had a big life.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“Here, [Sheehy] looks back on her remarkable life with unflinching candor.”
Tom Wolfe
“The love story of two superstars in the final great moment of American magazine journalism.”
Meredith Vieira
“Gail Sheehy says that what she cares about most is honesty, and this remarkable memoir is proof. ...I dare you to put it down. I couldn’t.”
Milton Glaser
“Gail takes us behind the scenes of New York magazine as only one who was there could do.”
Richard Reeves
“An astonishing book! ...Those were the days, my friend; we thought they’d never end. They did, but Gail Sheehy brings them alive again.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)


Meet the Author

Gail Sheehy is the author of seventeen books, including the classic New York Times bestseller Passages, named one of the ten most influential books of our times by the Library of Congress. A multiple-award-winning literary journalist, she was one of the original contributors to New York magazine and has been a contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 1984. A popular lecturer, Sheehy was named AARP's Ambassador of Caregiving in 2009.

Brief Biography

New York City and Berkeley, California
Date of Birth:
November 27, 1937
B.A., University of Vermont; M.A., Columbia School of Journalism

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Daring: My Passages 0 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MargieS1 More than 1 year ago
Given To Me For An Honest Review Gail Sheehy's book Daring: My Passages: A Memoir is an interesting read.  I remember reading Passages and that was phenomenal and  beyond a bestseller.  This one was interestng as it gave new insight on well known historical and popular persons and events.  She  shares with the reader her life from childhood through her adulthood.  It is interesting and readable.  I enjoyed reading it.  I enjoyed  reading it.  I recommend it to all.