The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood (Reader’s Den Review)

In a recent op-ed on entitled “Why men are in trouble”, William Bennett stated the current challenges among young men today. He writes,

“Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in man way. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?”

He ends the piece with an unashamed exhortation: “Get off the video game five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married.”

While it’s easy to bemoan the current state of manhood (or the lack thereof), Bennett has helpfully put together an assortment of readings “on the path to manhood”. They are:

  • Man in War
  • Man at Work
  • Man in Play, Competition, and Leisure
  • Man in the Polis
  • Man with Woman and Children
  • Man in Prayer and Reflection
Bennett writes of the hope he has for this book:
“There are examples worthy of emulation, stories worth knowing, lives worthy studying and remembering, and counsel worth hearing. I have tried to gather a wide sampling of material that can encourage and guide. And so, while this book cannot make you a good man, it should give you a helpful idea of what a good man is.” (xxii)
This is not a book to read in one sitting, although one could very well do that. Instead, it is an assortment of timeless and often unknown wisdom. Consider it a 500-page manual that contains the code of a gentleman. In a culture that exalts unmanliness, this resource then serves as a father of sorts. Sometimes the best instructors in life are those who are no longer alive.
I wouldn’t agree with all the selections included in this volume, especially some in the section on prayer and reflection (note: William Bennett is a Roman Catholic). But by and large I’m enthusiastic in recommending this tome on manhood. I’m hopeful that many men would tap into this profound well of wisdom. As Bennett would say, “it’s time for men to man up.”

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