Understanding Men’s Passages – Book Review

by | Jul 7, 2019 | Book Review | 0 comments

Understanding Men’s Passages: Discovering the New Map of Men’s Lives. Gail Sheehy, Random House Inc. 1999 $24 (292p) ISBN 978-0-679-45273-7.

The first time through this book I was a little aggravated that so many of the people interviewed were from high-power and high-paying jobs. What does Mr. Bigshot losing his million dollar a year job have to do with me struggling down here in the mud? Poor baby will have to go looking for a new million dollar a year job. He’s making passages on a mega-yacht, martini in hand, and I’m rowing like mad and bailing water in my crappy little dinghy.

The “passages” are broken down into decades from forty to sixty. And while they are well described, I was disappointed that the book offers very little in the way of meaningful advice or guidance on how to deal with the passage at hand. The appendix offers a few meager scraps of advice but that is about it. She has laid out an interesting map but no navigational aids. It feels incomplete. It’s like here’s your map and you figure out where you want to go and how to get there.

Still, when I thumbed back through certain sections I thought this a well-researched and well-written book. Any time you have 7,880 men and women answering your questionnaire you probably have solid data and Sheehy has been writing best-sellers since 1976.

This book was written twenty years ago and may be getting a little dated, but it will help you gain a better understanding of where you are in your passage and what the terrain looks like ahead. The hard work of living through each passage, of aging well, is left for you to find on your own.


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