The middle-aged American male has just recently caught the attention of behavioral scientists, and Peter Chew is quick on their heels with this attempt to popularize their all-too-rudimentary findings. The book had its beginning in several articles he wrote for the National Observer; although he persisted with two years of additional interviews and research, his account never gets above a Sunday supplement level--a quote-and-run approach in which one expert's opinion is as good as another's, however contradictory. The middle-aged man Chew sketches is essentially a middle-class man, fed up with his middling job but desperately afraid to lose it (who'd hire anyone his age?). He has to be a parent to his own parents as they falter in old age, as well as to his troubled and troublesome teenagers. His marriage may be dull; he may be adulterous or impotent. Above all, he knows he has only so much of his life left, and if it doesn't start delivering on its promises, it never will. No wonder he can't forgo that obliterating second martini or the young woman who tenders a second chance. Chew suggests that the middle-aged male cultivate spiritual values and leisure to ease his plight--a plight made worse by America's fetish of success and the roadblocks it puts in the way of those seeking to change careers in midlife. He ends with the stories of three men who did make fresh starts: as a kite maker, hermit, and Yale dean--occupations so specialized they would seem to have no relevance to the average beset middle-ager. Compare Patt Watters' equally superficial The Angry Middle-Aged Man reviewed below.