The Third Chapter

Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Sarah Crichton Books

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In the twenty-first century, a developmental phase of life is emerging as significant and distinct, capturing our interest, engaging our curiosity, and expanding our understanding of human potential and development. Demographers talk about this new chapter in life as characterized by people—between fifty and seventy-five—who are considered “neither young nor old.” In our “third chapters” we are beginning to redefine our views about the casualties and opportunities of aging; we are challenging cultural definitions of strength, maturity, power, and sexiness.

This is a chapter in life when the traditional norms, rules, and rituals of our careers seem less encompassing and restrictive; when many women and men seem to be embracing new challenges and searching for greater meaning in life.

In The Third Chapter, the renowned sociologist Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot offers a strong counterpoint to the murky ambivalence that shrouds our clear view of people in their third chapters. She challenges the still prevailing and anachronistic images of aging by documenting and revealing the ways in which the years between fifty and seventy-five may, in fact, be the most transformative and generative time in our lives, tracing the ways in which wisdom, experience, and new learning inspire individual growth and cultural transformation. The women and men whose voices fill the pages of The Third Chapter tell passionate and poignant stories of risk and vulnerability, failure and resilience, challenge and mastery, experimentation and improvisation, and insight and new learning.

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Book Excerpts

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Introduction: Facing the Mirror

Perhaps it is my age. I am sixty-two, and for the last several years my conversations with friends, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances have often been punctuated by what I have now come to call "confessional moments." Certainly there is the expected chatter and grumbling about minor and major infirmities or unwelcome signs of deterioration—lower-back pain, varicose veins, bald heads, and gray hair—and there is the usual whining about offspring, now finished with college, maybe even married with young children, who return home to live and

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Praise for The Third Chapter

The Third Chapter is a compassionate rendering of the challenges of entering uncharted post-career years, followed by an eloquent vision of the joys that lie ahead for those who put giving at the center of living.” —Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School Professor and bestselling author of Confidence and America the Principled
 
“Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot follows her subjects on an extraordinary journey. Read this book and be inspired by the diverse ways these women and men redefine their lives, adding purpose, passion, and reflection as they grow older.” —Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund
 
“In this singular book, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot introduces a new stage of life, delineates its intriguing and unexpected contours, and draws lessons that are meaningful for every human being.” —Howard Gardner, author of Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet
 
“Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, one of our most graceful and gifted chroniclers of the changing psychological landscape, has produced a biography of the new lifestage emerging between the end of the middle years and the arrival of old age. This remarkable tale is conveyed through the nuanced stories of individuals navigating their way through their fifties, sixties, and seventies, and is punctuated by Lightfoot’s arresting observations. The result is not only the best book yet about the changing lifecourse, but an inspiring roadmap for individual and social renewal in the emerging third chapter. As ten thousand baby boomers turn sixty each day, the timing of this book is as exquisite as its insights.” —Marc Freedman, author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life and founder/CEO of Civic Ventures

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About the Author

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard and the chair of the board of the MacArthur Foundation. As a sociologist, she examines the culture of schools, the patterns and structures of classroom life, socialization within families and communities, and the relationships between culture and learning styles.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Third Chapter
Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sarah Crichton Books
January 2009
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429980883
ISBN10: 1429980885
6 x 9 inches, 272 pages, Includes Notes and a Bibliography
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sarah Crichton Books
December 2009
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780374532215
ISBN10: 0374532214
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 304 pages, Includes Notes and a Bibliography
$15.00
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