A lot of us have figured out that there is a lack of male leadership in our culture these days. It’s easy to lament this fact but more difficult to do something about it. William Bennett, the compiler of the excellent Book of Virtues, has done something about the need for real men in our culture. He’s compiled a book, The Book of Man, that offers a great selection of short writings that act as a model for virtuous manhood.
I’ve been talking to my three sons about what it means to be a Christian man, and now that I have The Book of Man in hand I have my choice of stories, profiles, and speeches to illustrate what I’m trying to teach them. Bennett offers an excellent (but too brief) introduction and organizes his selections around 6 areas of masculine endeavor: man at war; man at work; man in play, sports, and leisure; man in the polis; man with women and children; and man in prayer and reflection. I’m especially glad to see the last two sections because our culture has some notion of men in the first four categories but not enough for men with their families and men with their God.
Bennett has done a good job of selecting a wide variety of writings related to manhood – enough to offer something for everyone. I especially like this because there’s not only one vocation to which men are called, and The Book of Man offers a vision for men in six different spheres. The book is aimed at adult readers, but there is a lot that young men and older boys could benefit from, especially if they read the selections together with their father.
The Book of Man upholds a traditional, moral and religious view of man, even though many of the selections are from men who are not specifically Christian or even religious. What the selections do consistently, however, is to expect that men are moral creatures and must act like such in all spheres of life. Maybe Bennett should have called the book “Men Behaving Well.”
My one complaint about the book is that the selections, while good ones, are all short (usually a page). This encourages only dipping into the minds and lives of men who are good examples, and not to engage them more deeply. Some of the men represented in the book are: Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare (Henry V), William the Conqueror, Sergeant York, Ronald Reagan, Douglas MacArthur, Teddy Roosevelt, Booker T. Washington, Pete Maravich, Davy Crockett, Nolan Ryan, Charles Dickens, St. Francis of Assissi, Robert E. Lee, and George Washington.
I’m looking forward to sharing this with my sons and recommend it as one helpful way to begin raising real men again.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own and were influenced only by the quality of the book itself.
Category: Book Reviews