Books by Mark Gerzon

Released: March 1, 1996

A former flower child's disjointed exhortation for everyone to get along and have a little faith in democracy. When he was a child in the 1950s, writes Gerzon (Coming into Our Own, 1992, etc.), three in four citizens believed that government served their best interests; the figure now stands at one in eight. What has replaced the United States, in Gerzon's annoying conceit, is a Divided States of America, whose residents are citizens of six different nations: patria, the religious state, which argues that America is a Christian nation; corporatia, the capitalist state, based on unwavering belief in the free market; disia, the disempowered state, which believes that government is founded on the oppression of racial and economic minorities; media, the suprastate, ``a part of the corporate conglomerates, yet distinct from them''; gaia, the transformation state, whose citizens feel that ``a new paradigm of thinking . . . is transforming every aspect of society''; and officia, the governing state, whose citizens believe that government alone can override the divisions in society. ``Can a nation whose citizens hold fundamentally different beliefs remain united?'' Gerzon asks. Answering in the negative, he raises the fear that present social conditions will result in civil war. To stem the bitter divisions (our awareness of which he ties to the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of an external enemy) Gerzon, a professional mediator and consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation, proposes a series of community-building endeavors that are unlikely to bring Jesse Helms and Jesse Jackson to the same table. His prescriptions boil down to dewy New Age nostrums, as he invites us to join in a ``campaign for our country'': ``We must view America,'' he writes, ``with the humility and wonder with which a child looks through a kaleidoscope.'' Gerzon makes astute use of printed sources to back up his arguments, but his analysis remains maddeningly superficial and wholly unconvincing. Read full book review >
Released: May 8, 1992

How do adults grow? Gerzon looks at the enduring issues of adult life—love, work, aging, global responsibility—in the same measured tones that characterized his previous books (A Choice of Heroes, 1982, etc.), each of which was a sort of generational totem. This new work, while breaking little new ground, again gathers together much that is in the air (and in print) and organizes these ideas into a coherent, deeply rooted discussion. Essentially, Gerzon sees the second half of adult life not as a series of set stages but as an ongoing quest, often begun in denial and confusion, related to the unfinished business of adolescence, focused on a need for wholeness rather than excellence. This is a time for shedding a self that no longer fits, when questions of faith arise anew and resolution depends on ``whether we live out our beliefs with an open heart.'' Drawing on sources from Einstein to Bonnie Raitt, Esalen founder Michael Murphy to In Midlife author Murray Stein, Gerzon demonstrates that crises, though common, are not predictable, and includes numerous examples of personal experiences—his own and those of others. This series of primarily but not exclusively middle-class tableaux avoids the simplifications and pep-rally cadences of many midlife books and offers instead a unified and mature perspective. ``To live gracefully is the Holy Grail we all seek,'' Gerzon concludes—and his one-world, multigenerational, ``Follow your bliss'' prescriptions seem a sure tonic for the times. Read full book review >