Armed with solid research, interviews with hundreds of individuals, and thought-provoking illustrative material, the always reliable Gail Sheehy (Passages) presents her portrait of the different stages of "second adulthood" for men. Some of the major challenges they will face from age 40 onwards are the ebbing of physical strength and athletic prowess, fears about losing their jobs and their fathers, envy of their empowered working wives, the yearning to draw closer to children and friends, anxieties about retirement and renegotiating marriage, and the whole question of potency in all areas of their lives.

Men in their "flourishing forties" must move beyond a secret adolescent orientation toward life. They must square off with fatality jitters and not try to mask signs of depression. The goal of the "fearless fifties" is to develop "a more creative, intuitive, nurturant side of self." In place of competition, a network of connectivity is recommended. This is a time to come to terms with male menopause. During the "influential sixties," men must forge a new retirement identity with their spouses and resiliently absorb the blows to both body and ego. Understanding Men's Passages by Gail Sheehy is an edifying guide to the changes in the lives of post-patriarchal men.