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After service in Vietnam, as a surgeon for the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in 1968-69, at the height of the war, Dr. Gordon Livingston returned to the U.S. and began work as a psychiatrist. In that capacity, he has listened to people talk about their lives-what works, what doesn’t, and the limitless ways (many of them self-inflicted) that people find to be unhappy. He is also a parent twice bereaved; in one thirteen-month period, he lost his eldest son to suicide, his youngest to leukemia. Out of a lifetime of experience, Gordon Livingston has extracted thirty bedrock truths: We are what we do. Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Only bad things happen quickly. Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing. The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas. Livingston illuminates these and twenty-four others in a series of carefully hewn, perfectly calibrated essays, many of which focus on our closest relationships and the things that we do to impede or, less frequently, enhance them. Again and again, these essays underscore that “we are what we do,” and that while there may be no escaping who we are, we have the capacity to face loss, misfortune, and regret and to move beyond them-that it is not too late. Full of things we may know but have not articulated to ourselves, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart offers solace, guidance, and hope to everyone ready to become the person they’d most like to be.

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