In a medical career ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics, Thomas (Tribes of Eden) has seen the aging process from many angles. Here, he posits that baby boomers, his intended audience, are heading for a second coming-of-age in a new stage of adulthood. Thomas creates four composite characters—Tom, Flo, Rita, and Melanie—to serve as examples and sets a framework according to “Crucibles”: “a test or severe trial brought about by the confluence of cultural, economic, and political forces within a society.” He defines 1961–1971 as the First Crucible, the age when boomers emerged into adulthood amid a backdrop of tremendous social change. His Second Crucible is the “greed is good” 1980s, where he mourns that secular Mormonism—through bestselling author Stephen Covey—became a popular but psychologically damaging movement. Finally, as an “ambassador from elderhood,” Thomas aims to “cast off... the ageist bigotry that surrounds us and to enter... into a place where age and aging stand alongside what is right and good and true.” Thomas’s characters are unnecessary distractions from otherwise sound concepts, but his advice, honed by his work with the AARP’s Life Reimagined Institute, is grounded and useful. Agent: Lane Zachary, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Mar.)
"A stirring and splendid book."
Stunning and insightful…Second Wind is not only a blueprint for individual fulfillment, it’s a generational mandate…Thomas has given us an inspiring and pragmatic guide for the path to purpose in the second half of life.
"An intellectual feast about the possibilities of life after adulthood....thought-provoking and motivating."
"A mixture of social history, culture, philosophy, and commentary....The book expanded my understanding of my generation—why we think the way we do and why we do the things that we do...visionary."
"Slowing down as we age, in the way that Dr. William Thomas means it, is not only a pleasure, but also a necessity. The brain research is clear: if we don't de-stress and rethink our lives in our fifties and beyond, we can not only lose our longevity but also increase our rates of depression, anxiety, and mental illness down the line. And so I will personally heed Dr. Thomas's advice in Second Wind, and I highly recommend this very practical and accessible book to everyone over fifty."
Second Wind is a tour de force. A beautifully crafted narrative on the forces that have shaped the baby boom generation. And a roadmap for how this massive group can now use their accumulated wisdom and elderhood as a potent force for cultural renewal, connection, and deep healing.
"As the great migration beyond midlife gathers momentum and scale, millions are looking for deeper meaning, more significant roles, and connections that span the generations—asking the question, “How do I live a life that still matters?." Bill Thomas has emerged as the visionary leader and preeminent storyteller of this movement to make a monument out of what once were considered the leftover years. And now, with Second Wind, he has given us an inspiring and pragmatic guide for the path to purpose in the second half of life. It is destined to become a classic.
"Digging ever deeper into the etiology of what he learned treating the frailest people in nursing homes, Dr. William Thomas came to realize that the very culture in which we age needs to be healed. Second Wind is his RX for healing not just the cultural disease that exacerbates every illness that afflicts old age, but also the 'Koyaanisquati,' the life out of balance diagnosed by Hopi elders that threatens the future of humanity. As he demonstrates in Second Wind, it's all connected."
"In Second Wind, Bill Thomas goes deep inside our culture. Like the best kind of doctor, he evaluates the toll our hurried, quantified, and driven lives have taken on us before he suggests a new way forward. He'll challenge the way you think about your future. And you'll want to make the journey with him."
An exploration of developmental substages for adulthood and beyond. Thomas, possibly unaware of criticisms of the egocentrism of the baby boomer generation, suggests that the dynamics that gave rise to the cultural shift of baby boomers have also engendered a unique imbalance as their late adulthood sets in. The author, a senior fellow at the AARP's Life Reimagined Institute and a winner of the Heinz Award for the Human Condition, writes that this imbalance is a result of the self-inflicted mythology that the boomer generation created and embraced—a generation defined as youthful and preoccupied with youth. Rather than railing against the perceived order of the old and celebrating youth, Thomas writes, these boomers now often struggle with the rigidity of that identity. The fervent embrace of youth, coupled with conflict over the "structure, function, and meaning of adulthood," was a useful iconoclasm when the embracers were young. Thomas suggests that this resulting view of growing old as a "personal failing" needs to be flipped to an embrace of "elderhood" as a time of expanding, not lessening, opportunities. "We've been told that old age offers us nothing that the adult does not already possess in abundance," he writes, "but this is a lie." As children, we're allowed to explore our identities and try on different roles, realizing that we're still a work in progress. As adults, we're acculturated to winnow down those identities ("What do you want to be when you grow up?"), and adults who experience ambiguity around those identities are labeled as flighty, insecure and immature. Thomas explores possible paradigms that might enable us, as we transition through adulthood and beyond, to expand those ideas of identity. A mostly nuanced look at the challenges of growing old gracefully for a generation that aches to see youth in the mirror.