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Publisher's Summary

Author James Hollis' eloquent reading provides the listener with an accessible and yet profound understanding of a universal condition - or what is commonly referred to as the mid-life crisis. The book shows how we may travel this Middle Passage consciously, thereby rendering our lives more meaningful and the second half of life immeasurably richer.
©1993 Dr. James Hollis; (P)2004 BMA Studios

Critic Reviews

"With a calm tone and a friendly voice, Hollis leads listeners through this perilous period and advises on ways to negotiate it." (AudioFile)

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  • Kathleen
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 04-28-10

Where would we be without Hollis?

For those of you who had a perfect upbringing and are now surrounded by understanding and supportive friends and family and feel perfect contentment, this book may not be of value. But for the rest of us, it's priceless. Hollis reassures that discontent and confusion at midlife is not only normal, they are opportunities to enter a necessary phase of maturation. And for those of us who, because of acculturation, find ourselves and our impulses particularly challenging in this "dark forest" (to quote Dante), James Hollis provides a map, a flashlight, and breadcrumbs enough to find the trailhead.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • djean
  • Burien, WA, United States
  • 05-16-11

Surprisingly good

I'm in my early fifties, and have always taken self-help type books with a grain of salt. But for the most part this was a rational and logical explanation of the psychological changes we progress through as we age. I had quite a few 'ah-ha moments.'

I think most anyone 40+ yrs old would get something out of this, but particularly those with a less than ideal upbringing. It's sobering to know how long a dysfunctional background affects you all through life, something I was well aware of before listening to this audio book.

The author talks about a 'second adulthood' we experience later in life, and in doing so he put a name to what I have been experiencing myself during the past few years. Namely, yet another layer of the onion being peeled back in an effort to live an authentic life with less baggage.

The narrator/author is a psychologist, after all, so don't expect a lively telling. But the sound quality is good and the substance even better, so personally I wasn't put off by that. It's deep stuff, so I found myself listening to it a little at a time so that I could digest it all.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • Butler, PA, United States
  • 11-05-10

A Roadmap for Midlife

Whether you have arrived at a turning point in your life due to a traumatic event or are just looking for ways to relieve a gnawing sense of boredom, this book is for you. Dr. Hollis does an eloquent job of explaining where we are on the map of life while not making the reader feel like everything up to this point has been a mistake. His descriptions of the ruts, pitfalls and misconceptions that we sometimes all face encourage the reader to more closely examine his/her past from new perspectives. His examples from case studies are relevant and nicely integrated with the narrative of each psychological theory. He identifies the milestones on the road to our second adulthood in a way that is encouraging while still emphasizing that true change does not come easy.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Astra
  • The Boord, South Africa
  • 05-27-11


I have read all James Hollis's books, being an avid Jungian scholar, but I found him reading this book, particularly useful. I have learnt so much over the last few weeks, listening to it. Not everyone will enjoy this book though - if you are unable to reflect soberly on your life and childhood, you won't be able to recognise how much of your childhood you are still reflecting in your middle years.

Now I just need Audible to make What Matters Most available to current members. It is a book that you can get when you join, but I can't find it on the site, and have contacted them repeatedly about it, with no results. A friend of mine joined last night to get this new member offer, but when he had joined, the book was suddenly nowhere to be found.

Perhaps this review will be read and taken note of.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Briliant in every way

When I was 37 I quit my entrepreneurial career to become a film director.
The world thought I was "LA-LA" and at times I thought the same. THis is the book that made me understand my path. I read it twice in the last 2 weeks and I feel I just scrached the surface.

My wife, an avid Jungien, stole my IPOD to listen since her's broke down.
Now we can talk Jung for the first time...

Great book


24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • Canadian, Australia
  • 02-25-13

Beautiful news for journeying the Middle Passage

What did you love best about The Middle Passage?

I'm still listening to it. I keep going back over thing Dr Hollis says as it seems to reasonable and worthy to skim over. I need to hear it again and again to make sure it sinks in. This is advice and depth of emotional knowledge at it's best.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I love that it's the man himself reading to us.

What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

I love the section on projection. It gives me a clearer understanding of why we sometimes can't help ourselves become free of the stuff that keeps us locked into patterns of damage and sadness.<br/>A wonderful book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Vorris
  • Riverside, California, United States
  • 01-21-13

If Jung/myth is your lodestone, this is for you!

What made the experience of listening to The Middle Passage the most enjoyable?

Authors grasp of myth and story. Of how depression or losing one's way is both suffering<br/>and possibility; humiliation and salvation.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Middle Passage?

His use of poetry and literature to help the listener better understand the inner journey of discovering and living a more meaningful life.

What does James Hollis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His passion and warmth. Yet, a calmness of experience.

What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

That if one can endure and engage one's own life, change is possible.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Timothy
  • LOUISVILLE, KY, United States
  • 01-10-12

Excellent book on the mid-life passage

Any additional comments?

This book was assigned for a graduate level psychology course on lifespan development. It was red by the author, and was a fantastic overview of the mid-life passage, which drew on poetry and literary works, and was very well done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A lot of knowledge to understand midlife

This a great book for midlife, the author has a lot of knowledge of this period in life, one of the best books I have read so far. It gives an explanation from a physiology perspective, yet in an easy way to understand it, warmly human. A companion book in midlife to read not just once, but couple of times during this time.

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good info, but...

tolerable at 1.25x, otherwise, way to slow and monotone. good info from a basic psychological standpoint.

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  • Suzanne
  • 07-03-10

The Middle Passage

One of my favourite books now read by the author, who is warm and human. This book was a life line for me and is now like a friend on my ipod. Delightful.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • 01-18-10


This is a great book. It's such a pleasure to listen to a complete masterpiece such as this. If you are a bit on the clever side and are looking for something intelligent to get your teeth into at the same time as enlightening yourself about midlife, this is the book for you. It's full of poetry and literature as well as indirect guidance for those suffering the traumas and depression that come with a midlife crisis. This book really has changed the whole way I look at things and dragged me out of a dark place. It's given me hope and also motivation to look forward in a way that I never considered before. For the first time I think that the second half of my life could actually be better than the first half!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan
  • 09-26-10


I was disappointed in this book as it came highly recommended. I found it monotonus and somewhat boring. If you are looking for something along the same lines, I would recommend Dale Carnegies book on Worrying as it is a far more intriguing book. Unfortunately for me The Middle Passage was a let down.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nory S.
  • 12-11-16

Hard going

Topic was something Im extremely interested in at the present time but the language used makes it difficult to pay close attention.

I'm reasonably well read academically but the author lost me at critical times by using fancy words and terminology. Makes this book more of a slog than it should be.

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  • Dr RE Hodgson
  • 04-07-17

Lots of Jung. Helpful approach to midlife

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-13-17


Very good and challenging book l totally recommend it you won't be the same again.