“The Book of Man” by William Bennett is something like the last book I read by him “The American Patriot’s Almanac” (well to say it’s the last book I read is a bit misleading as I go back and read bits from it all the time). It has many different readings by many different authors which are all relatively short. Even the binding and size of the books are similar. The book has a hard cover with a fabric spine and deckled edges on the paper. It does make for an attractive presentation of the book. Unlike the other book however, this does not have readings for each day of the year but has the readings broken up by subject all under the general category of what it means to be a man. The readings are taken from many disparate sources ranging from the ancient to the modern. You’ll find the thoughts of many of history’s great men as well as people you may have never heard of.
Personally I liked the book. I am raising two boys and perspectives on what it takes to be a man that may not always be yours or have occurred to you are helpful when you are trying to raise boys to be men in a society where many men from my generation have not really progressed from their behaviors of their late teens, early twenties. I have many friends who spend a great deal of time with video games. Not that I have an issue with video games in the abstract (I have a Wii, PS2 and an Xbox 360), but if you’re in your early 40’s still living as a roommate with the same guys you did when you were 25 and spend much of your money and time on video games and comic books there may be some arrested development going on.
Not that I’m immune to the perils of our society and I have my issues with how I can better fill my post as a husband, father, and man in society. That does not, however, preclude me from noticing the trend. I think this book is needed but in large measure will be either ignored or derided as being a throwback to some backwards age. Neither should happen. But then again, how often does what should happen seem to?