Review: The Book of Man

ReviewThe Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood (William J Bennet, Thomas Nelson 2011).

In his previous books William Bennet has shown an amazing ability to gather materials from a variety of eras and sources, and in The Book of Man he does so again.

Bennet calls attention to the present plight of manhood, in which there is a dearth of examples about how being men relates to one’s work, faith, family and society. Bennet’s sampling of materials addresses this problem, and extols virtues of hard work, loyalty to country, friends and family, and the transmission of faith to one’s children.

Drawing from the writings of past U.S. presidents, literary classics, and religious sources, Bennet categories those ideas and applies them to being men in war, work, politics, family, and faith. Because Bennet’s religious examples cross Catholic and protestant sources, as well as non-Christian traditions, his outlook on manhood is quite ecumenical.

The Book of Man does not, therefore, provide any indication of which religious tradition Bennet believes is the right one, but only suggests that Bennet believes that being manly includes a spiritual element. Fathers wishing to use The Book of Man to support, for example, a Christian view of manhood, therefore, should select reading with measure of discretion and additional teaching.

There are odd quirks to some of Bennet’s profiles of current prominent men, such as commending an American Muslim for standing against radical adherents of his faith, while failing to mention at all the Christian faith of NFL quarterback Aaron Rogers.

An encyclopedic approach to the materials such as Bennet’s is not my personal favorite, but for simply the wealth and variety of sources, as well as the profiles of contemporary figures, The Book of Man is worth checking out.

Rating: 3/5.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Book Sneeze (BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com>) book review program. I was not required or encouraged to write a positive review; the thoughts expressed here are my own.

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