From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Annoying at times (often!), but never uninteresting, this book has much of importance to say."—Arlene Saxonhouse, University of Michigan
"A work of thought as well as a provocation, Manliness deserves to be widely read, argued over, and pondered."— David Bromwich, Yale University
"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
“It’s a subtle exploration about the virtues and vices of the thymotic urge."—Frank Rich, New York Times
(Frank Rich 4. New York Times
“Mansfield’s defense of what, politically, has become indefensible by anyone wanting to keep his reputation intact is most welcome.”—Theodore Dalrymple, American Enterprise
(Theodore Dalrymple American Enterprise
“Mansfield argues that efforts in Western society to equalize the status of men and women are doomed to failure.”—Kevin Horrigan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
(Kevin Horrigan St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"[This] new book entitled simply Manliness amounts to a spirited defense of the male psychology."—Joseph R. Phelan, Washington Times
(Joseph R. Phelan Washington Times
“Amusing, refreshing, and outrageous observations. . . . Many readers will be grateful to him for his candor and bravado.”—Christina Hoff Somers, Weekly Standard
(Christina Hoff Somers Weekly Standard