“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.