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Manlinessby Harvey C. Mansfield
"[Mansfield's] cavalier way with logic, his lack of definitional clarity, his ideological enthusiasm, and his tendency to romanticize characters similar to Bonds and Barrett make his book, well, uncourageous, just when we badly need to think well about how better to cultivate true courage." Martha C. Nussbaum, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
This book invites ? no, demands ? a response from its readers. It is impossible not to be drawn in to the provocative (often contentious) discussion that Harvey Mansfield sets before us. This is the first comprehensive study of manliness, a quality both bad and good, mostly male, often intolerant, irrational, and ambitious. Our ?gender-neutral society? does not like it but cannot get rid of it.
Drawing from science, literature, and philosophy, Mansfield examines the layers of manliness, from vulgar aggression, to assertive manliness, to manliness as virtue, and to philosophical manliness. He shows that manliness seeks and welcomes drama, prefers times of war, conflict, and risk, and brings change or restores order at crucial moments. Manly men in their assertiveness raise issues, bring them to the fore, and make them public and political ? as for example, the manliness of the women?s movement.
After a wide-ranging tour from stereotypes to Hemingway and Achilles, to Nietzsche, to feminism, and to Plato, the author returns to today?s problem of ?unemployed manliness.? Formulating a reasoned defense of a quality hardly obedient to reason, he urges men, and especially women, to understand and accept manliness, and to give it honest and honorable employment.
"Harvard government professor Mansfield delves into philosophy, literature and science to define manliness and to argue that it should have a place in an increasingly non-gender-specific society. Throughout, Mansfield clearly states his intentions, and though he may have convinced himself he accomplished his goals, readers will be skeptical; when, for example, he sets out to 'elevate manliness from aggression to assertion and thereby discover its connection to politics,' he jumps from Hemingway to Achilles before posing a question that has little more than a thin patina of importance: 'In our time there are many who say that heroes lack humanity and few who will admit that humanity needs heroes. But at all times heroes have to assert themselves. The question is, what is in it for us?' Similar murky questions and non-sequitur lines of logic continue throughout: 'Man has fearsome powers of wisdom and fire over beasts. All beasts fear fire, which perhaps represents the Promethean gift of technology.' This clunky chain of supposition is followed by a brief foray into The Jungle Book. But Mansfield's theories on gender equality are likely to create the most conversation: 'women are the weaker sex,' 'women's bodies are made to attract and to please men' and 'now that women are equal, they should be able to accept being told that they aren't, quite' all appear on the same page. Mansfield set out to write a provocative book, but ended up penning a juvenile screed." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Readers of Manliness will be alternately charmed and exasperated, but they will be challenged to think, and as a result may well view the world differently than they did before....
"Manliness is not merely an engaging book about philosohy: it is that much rarer thing — a genuinely philosophical book that enlists the reader in the adventure of thought." James Piereson, New Criterion
"Thoughtful, vexing, and ultimately irresistible book...neither a chest-thumping celebration of masculinity nor a scientific snore on 'biological maleness.'" Oprah Magazine
"Enthralling....[Mansfield's] assertion of what manliness is is thrillingly argued and never less than fascinating." James Bowman, New York Sun
"It's a subtle exploration about the virtues and vices of the thymotic urge." Frank Rich, New York Times
About the Author
Harvey C. Mansfield is William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government, Harvard University.CITATION:
(Mary Nichols) CITATION:
"Mansfield argues that manliness-in its combination of stubbornness and rationality-provides a ground for political life. His work is a thoughtful attempt to move us to think more clearly about who we are, and about the future of our liberal society."-Mary Nichols, Baylor University
(Arlene Saxonhouse) CITATION:
"Annoying at times (often!), but never uninteresting, this book has much of importance to say."-Arlene Saxonhouse, University of Michigan
(David Bromwich) CITATION:
"A work of thought as well as a provocation, Manliness deserves to be widely read, argued over, and pondered."- David Bromwich, Yale University
(1. Oprah Magazine) CITATION:
"thoughtful, vexing, and ultimately irresistible book . . . neither a chest-thumping celebration of masculinity nor a scientific snore on `biological maleness.'"
(Frank Rich, 4. New York Times) CITATION:
"It's a subtle exploration about the virtues and vices of the thymotic urge."
(Theodore Dalrymple, American Enterprise) CITATION:
"Mansfield's defense of what, politically, has become indefensible by anyone wanting to keep his reputation intact is most welcome."
(Kevin Horrigan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) CITATION:
"Mansfield argues that efforts in Western society to equalize the status of men and women are doomed to failure."
(Joseph R. Phelan, Washington Times) CITATION:
"[This] new book entitled simply Manliness amounts to a spirited defense of the male psychology."-Joseph R. Phelan, Washington Times
(Christina Hoff Somers, Weekly Standard)
"Amusing, refreshing, and outrageous observations. . . . Many readers will be grateful to him for his candor and bravado."
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