Disclaimer: I rec’d a review copy of this book from the publisher as part of their BookSneeze review program. I rec’d no other compensation and am only required to write an honest review. The following is my honest view of this book, The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood.

The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood

I was fortunate. I grew up with five brothers, a dad who was often working his tail off and yet still there when it mattered most, and numerous uncles and other men who were great role models of true men. I am still blessed to be surrounded by good men — a dear husband, former bosses, and in-laws and friends who still have the sense of what it means to be a man.

What is my definition of a man: someone who understands sacrifice and service, whether on the battlefield or in the house; someone who dies to self everyday for those he loves and wants to protect; someone who sees his mightiness as a gift from God; someone who is humble, chaste and good.

Seems impossible to find in this century doesn’t it? With an increase in single moms, lack of employment for young men, and generally a society that says it’s ok to be self-absorbed, self-centered and self-actualized. A society that seems more interested in what is “owed” to me than what I can do to help improve it. Where are my children’s role models? Where can I show my sons good examples of what a man should be other than their dad and a few others? How can I ensure that my daughters find true men with whom to spend their lives?

William J. Bennett has compiled an excellent tool to help me and mine: his latest foray into anthologies is a thick tome titled The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood. This volume seeks to give all males of today good role models — from Audie Murphy to Pope John Paul II … from Abe Lincoln to Jimmy Carter … from a Navy SEAL to husband Chris Scott (an ordinary, not-famous, husband and dad). The stories and profiles and articles focus on one theme: the value of teaching our boys (and girls, too) what a real man looks like so we can separate the wheat from the chaff. To show all males the virtues and characteristics necessary to meet and overcome the challenges of manhood, to help the men “live like men”.

Bennett, who admits that this volume is not a definitive work nor are all the people mentioned in this volume perfect, has given us a starting point for teaching boys how to achieve manhood as the best male role model they must be. He divides the book into chapters laden with examples: in war (from the ancients to yesterday), at work, at play (including athletes like Pistol Pete and Cal Ripken), in the political arena, with women and children (quoting Reagan on fatherhood and Teddy Roosevelt on “the best things in life” among others), and in prayer and reflection (and argues for the need for a strong spiritual life). All these men are examples of order, loyalty, service, sacrifice, diligence (especially in the face of adversity), responsible play, and chivalrous treatment of women and children.

This volume is packed with short stories, biographies, poems and profiles of men from the ancients through the middle ages, from every walk of life, men who have that certain something that makes them stand out as models of some aspect of true manhood. The readings are short — most only a page or two — but are direct and clearly show examples of how to approach this or that situation, how to be a man. Bennett mentions that he primarily chose positive, upbeat examples, avoiding the tragedies and examples of vice that would show the negative side of maleness. Bennett seeks to build-up, rather than tear down, and I appreciate this aspect.

I recommend The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood for all males … from middle school on up through adulthood … man who are seeking to understand their “job” their place in a society which wants to denigrate traditional values and depth of character. I’ve got my 12yo son reading the book in bits and pieces, and will use some of these stories as family read-alouds so that we can talk about why this person is a good example or how that situation was handled.

Thank you, Mr. Bennett!

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