The Book Of Man (book review)

“The purpose of this book is to explore and explain what it means to be a man,” writes William Bennett in the introduction of The Book Of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood. It seems like an ambitious goal, but this book actually does a wonderful job in achieving that lofty goal.

If you’ve read any of the other compilations that William Bennett has pulled together (such as The Book Of Virtues), you will have a good idea of the layout of this book. In case you haven’t experienced any of Bennett’s other collections, the idea is to pull together some of the wisest words ever spoken or written on a singular topic. In so doing, the reader will get to look at that topic through the eyes of so many different people, that it will give a much fuller view of the topic.

In this book, the topic is men. What does it mean to be a man? To be a Dad? To be a husband? To be a soldier or an employer/employee? To be tough and yet loving? To be thoughtful and yet a man of action? The Book Of Man is divided into six sections:

  • Man in war
  • Man at work
  • Man in play, sports, and leisure
  • Man in the polis
  • Man with woman and children
  • Man in prayer and reflection

In each section you will find the wit and wisdom of men living and dead; of those in the modern world and the ancient; of those from Western cultures and Eastern; of those who have “been there, done that.” This is not necessarily compiled to be read from cover-to-cover (although that’s the way I enjoyed reading it), but to go to the various sections as you are learning and growing in that area. I also love the comprehensive index at the end of the book, as a way to search for a particular author or topic.

As with William Bennett’s other books, this is a great book to read aloud with others. I would especially recommend Dads reading passages with their sons, as a great tool in helping our young men learn what it means to be a true man.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

UPDATE: I am sharing some of my favorite quotes from The Book Of Man. You can read them here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

Your Personal Spiritual Trainer

If you are a Christian, you have a personal trainer for your spiritual workouts. He is the Holy Spirit.

We should never think of the Holy Spirit as showing up just in the New Testament. He is living and active all throughout Scripture. Yesterday we saw Him in the gimel section of our P119 Spiritual Workout (that’s verses 17-24 of Psalm 119).

A personal trainer who has our best interests in mind will always set a healthy pace for us: neither letting us loaf nor working us too hard that it does permanent damage. But that pace is almost always painful because it is stretching us into a new dimension of fitness. This is just as true—if not truer—in the spiritual realm.

Take a look at the Hebrew letter gimel. Do you see a silhouette of runner? The Jews did, and they gave this definition to gimel: a richer man running after a poorer man in order to bless him. Isn’t that a great picture of what God does for us?! The Holy Spirit wants to help us “keep pace” with what God is blessing. That’s why He makes the laws and statutes and decrees of Scripture come alive so that we can keep pace with all that God has for us.

Now remember that blessing has two components. One part is the rich rewards we receive, and the other part is the loving correction. Both rewards and loving correction are blessings because they both keep us on pace with God’s plan for our lives.

The Holy Spirit sets a pace for us to follow as He reveals God’s Word to us. It’s a bit painful to stretch and grow, but God will reward us as we obediently follow the Spirit’s leading. If we choose not to keep pace, we may be alright for a while. But eventually, we’ll start to fall short, or even get on a wrong path. Here the blessing of God is to lovingly rebuke and correct us, in the attempt to get us back on pace with Him.

And when we get back on pace with God’s plan for us, His richest rewards can continue to flow into our lives!

If you’re not allowing the Holy Spirit to be your Personal Spiritual Trainer, I suggest you invite Him to take that role in your life today. No one is more concerned about your spiritual growth and spiritual vitality than He is, and He alone can help you get to the place of optimal spiritual health. 

If you have missed any of the messages in our P119 series, you can access them all by clicking here.

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