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The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man Paperback – October 15, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 353 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"YES!!
When I started reading the story, I admit I was skeptical. I thought it was just another chest-thumping by a Neanderthal, but I was wrong!!! Brett and Kate's answers were right on. I've been waiting for 20 years for men to start being men again. Make no mistake, equality is important to me, but I love it when a man can change a tire for me or remembers that I am a woman to be cherished and protected. Sure I can paint a room or do minor repairs around the house and I do, but once in a while, I love having a guy do it for me. Besides, this couple shows that you can be a man without being a jerk." -- MDAA, Toronto Star.com comment, 27 October 2009

About the Author

Brett McKay is a man. Kate McKay loves manly men. Together this husband and wife team reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and run the ArtofManliness.com, the manliest website on the Internet.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HOW Books; 42923rd edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600614620
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600614620
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (353 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Cox on February 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Men don't have many places to turn for solid lifestyle advice. Most men's periodicals and websites offer trendy fitness fads, designer suits or softcore bikini photos with all the lifestyle help of a beer commercial.

And then there's The Art of Manliness. As time goes by I've gained great respect for Brett and Kate McKay and the classic-yet-fresh take on masculinity on their Art of Manliness website. True to form, their first book isn't an e-book sold on Clickbank, it's a paper-and-ink tome fittingly titled The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man.

This book delivers on its promise in spades. If you get past the swaggering Victorian dandy on the cover you'll find practical advice that applies here and now, for almost every aspect of a man's life.

Its eight chapters reflect all sides of the total man. "The Gentleman," for example, includes tips and advice on becoming well-groomed and well-mannered, from how to fold a pocket square and iron pants to the "lost art" of wet shaving with a safety razor. If you want to know the difference between the American Man Hug and the International Man Hug, how to land a plane in an emergency or how to braid your daughter's hair, it's in there.

As a bonus, I found Art of Manliness to be a quick, engaging read. Where the AoM site frequently discusses its topics at length, the book is concise and well-structured, quickly laying out the steps to a tip or the case for a concept and then moving on.

Tying these tips and trivia together is the notion that what makes a man a man has never changed -- it just gets lost in the noise.
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I love the concept behind this book and ordered a copy hoping I could share it with my son. Sadly after reading it cover to cover, I'll be sending my copy to the resale shop.

The authors spent a significant amount of time examining some of the great men in history (a good place to start) but couldn't seem to apply what they learned to the modern male. For example, they correctly identified the art of self defense as an area worthy of study but then chose "Bartitsu", a style of self defense that died out almost 100 years ago, as what a modern man should become proficient in. A quick Google search shows there isn't a "Bartitsu" school within 200 miles of me and I'm pretty sure the 10 pages devoted to "Bartitsu" moves won't be enough to teach you anything useful.

There is some useful discussion on respect, honesty, integrity, reliability mixed in with some everyday skills everyone should know, like how to change a tire and jump start a car. Then they teach you how to find North/South/East/West with a stick and your analog watch but not how to read a map to figure out where you are and how to get where you're going. It's not like they ran out of room, because there's sections in the book on how to land an airplane and treat a snake bite.

Bottom line, there seems to be a lot of random "skills" like the fireman's carry and making fire without matches mixed with advice on how to be a man of character that never really gel. It was a good idea, just poorly executed.
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It is quite refreshing to see someone else interested in bringing back some of the better "old fashioned" ideas that are actually timeless. I do disagree with the author's emphasis on the appearance of the individual. While it is undeniable by almost anyone that would be interested in this book that modern society has gone too far in the direction of carelessness about personal appearance, in my opinion it is simply far too much of what is actually a good thing. Along with the sexism and elitism of the past, which the author makes clear he is very glad to be rid of, belong the fastidious obsession with personal appearance that was expected of both men and women in days gone by. While bringing back the use of brimmed hats has its practical side, pocket squares and bespoke suits are thoroughly unnecessary to the life of a true gentleman. It is far more manly to spend as little time as possible focusing on personal appearance while still making one's self presentable. The problem is that the idea of being "presentable" has fallen so far in recent years. (I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOUR UNDERWEAR) It is possible, however, to go too far in the other direction. It is simply not manly to obsess about one's appearance.
Another reason this book didn't get five stars is the author's focus on the necessity of manly confidence. A little confidence is a good thing, but the author goes too far in making so much out of masculine assertiveness. Is our problem really that we have too FEW type A personalities out there? You be the judge. I find a secure humility to be a far more necessary component in dealing with our cultural ailments than a T.R. style aggressiveness and, dare I say, arrogance.
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So far my favourite chapters have been, Chapter One: The Gentleman, which is chock full of the basic stuff that your father should've taught you but serves as a good refresher course, or a solid foundation to build on. Chapter Four: The Lover, I am pretty tight with the chivalry stuff but it was a cool read especially the segments pertaining to marriage, I was hoping this chapter was Kate approved to help me get inside of the female mind and not let anything unimportant slip through. By far my favourite chapter was, Chapter Five: The Father, of course because I am a father and I especially appreciated the segment "Raise Resilient Kids, it reaffirmed many things I already practice in raising my daughter which is good because some of those things can be scary such as "2. Let Them Do Unsafe Things". Plus I was amused at the "Teach Your Kid To Ride A Bike" segment in particularly the old dirty trick of "..let go of the bike's seat. To avoid a possible freak-out and ensuing spill, don't tell him you're letting go." The last two chapters "The Leader" and "The Virtuous Man" could be combined with chapter one as required reading for every young man. The humor peppered into the segments is a nice touch and keeps the writing down to earth and kept the pages turning. The glossary in the back is a nice "The Clockwork Orange" touch, and I know if I adopt too much of it I will sound like I stepped out of a movie (although I do naturally use a few of those). I now count "square-rigged" the newest edition to my vocabulary.

It definately sets itself apart from any self-help, lifestyle, fashion, philosophy type of books by means of the honesty of its we-give-a-damn tone that it strikes. A great book for perpetuating the endangered art of manliness.
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