We live in a time of change, an era where old men can be celebrated as elders who are valued but who are not demeaned if they become ill and dependent. Where we aim to maintain health but find dignity in frailty. Old Man Country helps readers see and imagine this change for themselves. The book follows the journey of a writer in search of wisdom, as he narrates encounters with twelve distinguished American men over 80 - including Paul Volcker, the former head of the Federal Reserve, and Denton Cooley, the world's most famous heart surgeon. In these and other intimate conversations, the book explores and honors the particular way that each man faces four challenges of living a good old age: Am I Still a Man? Do I Still Matter? What is the Meaning of My Life? Am I Loved? Readers will come to see how each man - even the most famous - faces challenges that are every man's challenges. Personal yet universal stories about work, love, sexuality, and hope mingle with stories about illness, loss and death. These stories will strengthen each of us as we anticipate and navigate our way through the passages of old age.
Chapter One: What My Fathers Couldn't Find Chapter Two: Setting Out on Life's Journey PART ONE: AM I STILL A MAN? Chapter Three: George Vaillant and American Manhood Chapter Four: Red Duke, the Cowboy Surgeon Chapter Five: Sherwin Nuland: The Old Man Who Was Young and Strong PART TWO: DO I STILL MATTER? Chapter Six: The Moral World of Paul Volcker Chapter Seven: Denton Cooley and the Legacy of 100,000 Hearts Chapter Eight: John Harper Gets by with a little Help from his Friends PART THREE: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MY LIFE? Chapter Nine: Hugh Downs: TV Broadcaster as Modern Day Cicero Chapter Ten: Sam Karff and the Power of Stories Chapter Eleven: James Forbes: Old Man by the Riverside PART FOUR: AM I LOVED? Chapter Twelve: Dan Callahan: Love in the Old Age of Ethics Chapter Thirteen: Walter Wink: Nonviolent Resistance and Dementia Chapter Fourteen: Ram Dass and Me INTERLUDE: WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Chapter Fifteen: Gleanings for the Path Ahead References
"At a time when our culture is calling male privilege into question, Cole's interviews reveal much about the actual lives of men at the pinnacle of American privilege, as they candidly reflect on their decades of influence across a wide range of fields. Readers of Old Man Country will meet a dozen powerful personalities in their 80s and 90s, from former Fed chairman Paul Volcker to spiritual guru Ram Dass, as well as those less well known. Their reflections on family, work, love, and, most importantly, life's meaning are sometimes leavened by unvarnished observations from the women in their lives. Along the way, Cole offers valuable insights from his own moving journey into later life." * Paul Kleyman, Founder and National Coordinator, Journalists Network on Generations * "What is a good old age? At a time when 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day, the question is more timely than ever. In Old Man Country, Cole concludes there's not one answer, but many. His deeply personal interviews with men in the 'fourth age' reveal that growth doesn't come to a sudden halt in middle age and that there are countless ways to prove that life still matters even in the face of inevitable physical decline." * Richard M. Smith, President, The Pinkerton Foundation * "Beautifully written, honest, and insightful, Cole's Old Man Country tackles key questions about aging and manhood, blending profiles and memoir to show us how exceptional men (including the author himself ) change and adapt to old age." * Louise Aronson, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and author of Elderhood * "Our culture too often defines our lives as a journey of three parts, the final one running from age 65 until death. But as Thomas Cole makes clear there is a "fourth age," encompassing those over 80, and it's growing at four-times the rate of the U. S. population as a whole. Intertwining elegant snippets of his personal recollections with riveting interviews of well-known 'fourth age' men, Cole pushes us to reconsider the holistic nature of our lives. Not just an important book, but a revolutionary one as well." * David Oshinsky, Director, Division of Medical Humanities, New York University *