Understanding Men's Passages: Discovering the New Map of Men's Lives

Overview

Her stunning bestsellers Passages and New Passages brilliantly mapped the changes we live through from youth to maturity. Now Gail Sheehy guides contemporary men through the turbulent challenges and surprising pleasures that begin at forty. As a man crosses that threshold, he is bound to ask midlife's most troubling question: Now what? Work anxieties, concerns over sexual potency, marital and family stress, issues of power, all take on new urgency as men contemplate the decades ahead. But as Gail Sheehy reveals ...
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Overview

Her stunning bestsellers Passages and New Passages brilliantly mapped the changes we live through from youth to maturity. Now Gail Sheehy guides contemporary men through the turbulent challenges and surprising pleasures that begin at forty. As a man crosses that threshold, he is bound to ask midlife's most troubling question: Now what? Work anxieties, concerns over sexual potency, marital and family stress, issues of power, all take on new urgency as men contemplate the decades ahead. But as Gail Sheehy reveals in this major new book, midlife is precisely the period when men are most likely to reinvent themselves and become masters of their fate. In Understanding Men's Passages, Sheehy offers all men--and the women in their lives--an essential guide to self-discovery.

Hundreds of bold, imaginative men--celebrities as well as everyday heroes--share here their most intimate desires, deepest fears, and most fervent cravings for renewal. Decade by decade, Sheehy uncovers the real issues facing men today: finding new passion and purpose to invigorate the second half of their lives, dealing with "manopause," surviving job change, enjoying post-nesting zest, defeating depression, and learning what keeps a man young.

Informative and inspiring, grounded in fact and full of fascinating life stories, Understanding Men's Passages is a landmark that will take its place beside Gail Sheehy's epoch-making Passages and New Passages.

"The author of the classic book 'Passages' addresses the specific passages and challenges of age that are specific to men...disucusses male menopause."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sheehy's advice, bolstered with demographic research, group interviews, medical commentary and personal testimony, is tough and wise."
--The New York Times Book Review

"SHEEHY HAS DONE IT AGAIN: engaged in a good deal of research, interviewed many of the right people, and then produced a beautifully readable, very useful guide to important aspects of adult human development. . . . The cumulative mass of her information, observations, and anecdotes is immensely impressive."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Her book will encourage and comfort many men, who--reluctant to confide in their friends or even in their wives--had imagined they were the only ones disheartened and confused by the thorny, arduous path from one stage of life to another."
--People

Elaine Showalter
I hope men will take the daring step of reading the book for themselves, because Sheehy's advice, bolstered with demographic research, group interviews, medical commentary and personal testimony, is tough and wise. -- New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The years after 40 offer men a "second adulthood," declares Sheehy, a chance to reinvent themselves. But first they must shift from competing to connecting, from incessant striving for external rewards to a quest for inner fulfillment through meaningful pursuits, after determining what they really want of the second half of their lives. In a constructive, enlightening guide to self-discovery for men and their partners, the author of "Passages" and "New Passages" uses 100 male interviewees, case histories and medical and psychological research to probe men's feelings about death, spiritual hollowness, empty nest syndrome, separation anxieties, their envy of their empowered working wives, pre-retirement jitters and waning sexual potency. There are enough fresh angles in this searching exploration of male malaise to help men tailor their goals and dreams to real-life circumstances.
Walter Anderson
Gail Sheehy has managed to penetrate the hidden vault of men's fears and secrets -- the real concerns that men do not share with each other. Men -- and women -- need to read this book to understand who we men really are and who we are becoming. The storytelling alone is worth the price of admission. -- Walter Anderson, Parade Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Despite some facile passages, the bestselling journalist Sheehy ("Passages", 1976; "New Passages", 1995; etc.) has done it again: engaged in a good deal of research, interviewed many of the right people, and then produced a beautifully readable, very useful guide to important aspects of adult human development. Her focus is both descriptive, charting the changing nature of American men's lives from the "second adulthood" that often begins between ages 40 and 50, through the attempt to live a vigorous, still-evolving old age, and prescriptive, helping men to rethink their lives in order to make a "preemptive strike against sameness and sourness." Sheehy's overly and redundantly upbeat tone can indeed be grating at times, and she does venture her share of insipid, undocumented generalizations: "Women are happier in midlife than they have been in any previous generation" (tell that to the economically downwardly mobile divorced women studied by Judith Wallerstein). But the author more than compensates for such passages by picking just the right variety of professionals and laypeople with whom to speak, by asking probing questions, listening well, and (usually) writing even better. The cumulative mass of her information, observations, and anecdotes is immensely impressive, addressing a wide variety of issues related to middle-aged men's dilemmas—from being laid off abruptly to beginning a new career, from impotence to sexuality among the aged, from depression (and new findings about its close correlation with heart attacks) to struggling for emotional regeneration. Much of this will help thousands of men and women alike. Credit also should go to both author and publisher fordoing a first-rate job on a commonly overlooked aspect of popular books: providing crisp, imaginative headings and an appealing layout. This is a rare work of engaging and substantive pop-psych that is perfectly balanced between psychology and the þpopular.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345406903
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition description: FIRST BALLENTINE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 673,240
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail  Sheehy
Millions of readers defined their lives through Gail Sheehy's landmark work, Passages, and through its bestselling sequel, New Passages. Among her twelve books is the huge international bestseller that broke the taboo around menopause, The Silent Passage. Ms. Sheehy is also a political journalist and contributing editor to Vanity Fair. The mother of two daughters, she divides her time between New York City and Berkeley, California, where she lives with her husband, editor and lecturer Clay Felker.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

Bestselling author and cultural observer Gail Sheehy has changed the way millions of people throughout the world look at their lives. Her original landmark work, Passages, made history, remaining on The New York Times bestseller list for more than three years and appearing in 28 languages. A Library of Congress survey named Passages one of the ten most influential books of our time.

In other recent bestsellers, New Passages and Understanding Men's Passages, Sheehy revisited the stages of adult life and mapped out a completely new frontier -- Second Adulthood. In The Silent Passage, Sheehy broke the taboo surrounding menopause and opened a dialogue vital to maturing women's health. The book presents a common-sense approach for managing the 20-year transition from early peri-menopause to the lengthened stage of post-menopause. She culminated a decade of Hillary-observing with the biography, Hillary's Choice, soon to be a two hour movie on A&E. Exploring the life of one of the nation's most intriguing women, Sheehy raises fundamental questions for every woman juggling career, family and personal ambition.

Sheehy's next book will be about a whole new universe of lusty, liberated women over 50 and their experiences in sex, love, dating, new dreams, marriage, and remarriage. It will be published by Random House in early 2006.

A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sheehy received a graduate fellowship to Columbia University where she studied under anthropologist Margaret Mead, who became her mentor. As a literary journalist, she was one of the original contributors to New York magazine. A contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 1984, she won the Washington Journalism Review Award for Best Magazine Writer in America for her in-depth character portraits of national and world leaders.

Sheehy is a seven-time recipient of the New York Newswomen's Club Front Page Award for distinguished journalism, most recently for her 2001 Vanity Fair article "September Widows." The American Psychological Association recently presented a presidential citation to Sheehy for "her unique ability to combine journalism and psychology." Other honors include the National Magazine Award, the Penny-Missouri Journalism Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Race Relations (which she earned for her book, Spirit of Survival). She is one of the founders of the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and recently launched a Writing Scholars Community for re-entry students at the University of California, Berkeley. For more information on Sheehy, please visit her website: www.gailsheehy.com.

Sheehy resides in New York and California.

Biography courtsy of the author's official web site.

Good To Know

Sheehy is the mother of two daughters: Maura, a psychologist and writer, and Mohm, an artist and art therapist.

Some of her favorite activities include writing plays, playing with her grandson Declan, and traveling with her husband, Clay Felker, professor at the Felker Magazine Center at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley.

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

Table of Contents

Author's Note
Acknowledgments
Pt. I What Do Men Want?
Ch. 1 It's a Guy Thing 3
Ch. 2 The New Map of Adult Life 17
Pt. II Flourishing Forties
Ch. 3 Why Do I Still Feel Like a Kid? 27
Ch. 4 Manhood on Trial 45
Ch. 5 Married and Mortal 78
Pt. III Fearless Fifties
Ch. 6 Passage to Your Second Adulthood 95
Ch. 7 Redirect Your Life Before the Hammer Falls 121
Ch. 8 Love and War with Wives, Fathers, Children 146
Pt. IV Who's Afraid of Male Menopause?
Ch. 9 The Male Sexual Life Cycle 177
Ch. 10 Secrets of Perpetual Virility 193
Pt. V Influential Sixties
Ch. 11 Passage to the Age of Integrity 215
Ch. 12 Progress Versus Despair 227
Pt. VI What Keeps a Man Young?
Ch. 13 Unconventional Wisdom 243
Appendices 259
Bibliography 269
Index 275
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