I often lament that books like this so seldom make it into the hands of those who most need to read them. But it's good to see so many men endorse "The Art of Manliness" as a worthy gift for sons or other young men. I agree. This book -- as well as the associated blog, podcast, and "community" -- are doing a lot to foster a return to classic, even timeless, ideas of what it means to be a man. "The Art of Manliness" is worth reading by males of most any age ... and probably by quite a few women, too, just for good measure.
That's not to say this book is flawless. Some of the lengthier how-to sections, notably those on how to help a woman give birth when no doctor is around and how to land a plane when the pilot is dead, felt not only like padding, but cliched padding at that. I skipped over both of those. On a more personal level, I certainly don't share the authors' evident fascination with Theodore Roosevelt, who shows up in these pages far too often. In fact, I think the line of his quoted on page 208 ("In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.") is not only bad advice to give to young men, but also shows why it's so dangerous to allow "men of action" like TR anywhere near positions of power.
That aside, though, the eight archetypes of manliness Brett and Kate McKay describe are well chosen and well explained. For a book that covers both grooming and sartorial basics and how to tie knots, encourages men to "stop 'hanging out' with women and start dating them" and to devise "rites of passage" for their sons, there are remarkably few stumbles while crossing an awful lot of ground. This is a book that deserves to be widely distributed and widely read. I hope it is.
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About the reviewer
Andrew S. Rogers (Cascadian)
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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"YES!! When I started reading the story, I admit I was skeptical. I thought it was just another chest-thumping by a Neanderthal, but I was wrong!!! Brett and Kate's answers were right on. I've been waiting for 20 years for men to start being men again. Make no mistake, equality is important to me, but I love it when a man can change a tire for me or remembers that I am a woman to be cherished and protected. Sure I can paint a room or do minor repairs around the house and I do, but once in a while, I love having a guy do it for me. Besides, this couple shows that you can be a man without being a jerk." -- MDAA, Toronto Star.com comment, 27 October 2009