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Becoming a Barbarian Paperback – March 15, 2016
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That said, I wasn't quite as big a fan of this book as I was of The Way of Men.
I loved reading about the Empire of Nothing. I found it to be a perfect illustration of what we've become: complacent, slothful, and comfortable to a disgusting degree, a gaggle of marshmallow drones measuring each others' worth in gold and purchased trinkets rather than deeds. If we can be bothered to do any measuring in between stuffing our faces and staring at our idiot boxes, that is.
Donovan purports that the only way out of the Empire's Matrix is to reject the rules said empire has laid out for us, primarily the social customs and standards that seek to control men, and which make "good man" and "good dog" into synonymous phrases. I'm fine with that to a point, but then he talks about taking care of your own and telling the rest of the world to screw off (again, not a bad thing in itself), to the point of advocating the leeching of tax dollars in order to benefit your own people. He actually says several times that a barbarian must be willing to take care of his own even at the expense of all others, even if it means attacking and stealing from other "tribes" should the needs of your own tribe be dire enough (or even if you just want to). That, by the way, is where I draw the line.
I do see plenty of merit in the idea of a tribe as Donovan outlines; the idea of being accountable to a small group of people certainly seems far more feasible and practical than attempting to be accountable to the whole world. I can't get on board with the idea of causing harm to strangers because the spoils would benefit my tribe, though. That sounds frighteningly analogous to the types of roving bandits you see raping and plundering the helpless in post-apocalyptic fiction (the book even has a chapter about looting and plundering). Because of that, I am certain that I could never be a member of Jack's tribe.
That's fine, though, because that's the whole point of the book: Jack does not give a single, solitary crap about any negative opinions I have of him or the Wolves of Vinland. I am not his brother, as he is not mine, and were we to meet in person, I have no doubt we would be able to have a civil discussion and even a few laughs, but we would probably have irreconcilable differences that would prevent us from ever reaching the point of brotherhood. In a survival scenario, he and his tribe would kill my tribe and me if we had food and they didn't.
Ultimately, you have to decide what you will take and what you will leave from this one. As for me, I agree with about 80% of what Jack said, and as I mentioned, I still respect him and would pounce on an opportunity to meet him.
If you decide to go out and club a random dude over the head with a bat because a short book vaguely alluded to the idea of doing so, that's your prerogative.
There is nothing solid that would make you jump out of your seat.
I am not going to return the book because I like to build my library but I won't recommend it to anyone.
I suggest you read Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell or something from Jordan Peterson and you will be far ahead of everyone else.
Donovan talks disparagingly about 'intellectuals.' Judging by the contexts he uses the term in, his definition of an intellectual is more or less a high IQ beta male in a tweed jacket with a bow tie, dispensing leftist b.s. from an ivory tower, or trading snobbish jokes at Upper Manhattan cocktail parties.
There's something to that caricature but there's also plenty of counter-examples; like Nietzsche, who was clearly an inspiration for Donovan's books. Or Carlyle, Kipling, etc. Donovan's an intellectual too (a musclebound one), and he's clearly spent a lot of time thinking about these things, and thought about them more deeply than most, which is basically the definition of an intellectual. He's a smart guy, and it shows. And he's right on just about everything.
Top international reviews
I enjoy Donovan's writing style, he make great use of imagery and metaphor to make his point, he's a engaging story teller and his use of Germanic mythology to frame some of the key ideas here was particularly effective. Some of his ideas might be considered controversial, but they're always relevant and eloquently illustrated. Overall you have an excellently written, empowering and inspirational follow up to The Way Of Men.
The core is the notion of Us vs Them and how to create a meaningful and strong group and sense of who the We is. The book goes quite a way down the path into doing this, but I'm sure that there will be may readers who are either feeling to isolated to form their own Mannerbund or who were expecting a more prescriptive look.
The book also branches more into an Alt-Right worldview and Germanic pagan practices, both of which are interesting topics. However, they are both also topics that I have read similar things about elsewhere. The book is in general somewhat less original than Donovan's other works - although I think this may be a case of the people he inspired, and is inspired by, simply publishing related works.
In summary, it's a very good short book. It doesn't quite meet the very high expectations resulting from the viral success of "Way of Men" but I'm happy to have bought and read it and I'll read it again in a few months.
Other than its brevity, I cannot fault this book in any way. In his previous work "The Way of Men", Donovan established his writing style as being punchy, incendiary, and highly quotable. In this book he has refined that style to the point where each paragraph can almost stand alone as a succinct thought in which no words are wasted. The authors style of communication is one which I find admirable and highly enjoyable to read, as it stands very clearly apart from the work of other authors who drawl on and pack out their pages with unnecessary filling words. Donovans work, on the other hand, is Spartan in the sense that it is both Laconic and bloody.
Typing the authors name into any search engine will very quickly reveal that Donovans personal life is a very authentic representation of the philosophies that he espouses in his work. Thinkers and writers in this genre (if such a genre could be said to have existed prior to Donovan) often tend to be nothing more than thinkers and writers who rarely practice what they preach. But Donovans adherence to the code that he promotes is well documented on Facebook, Instagram, and his personal website. Although some readers will not gain any extra appreciation of his work by knowing that he does indeed practice what he preaches, I personally find it to be an important point when we approach the work of writers such as these.
To conclude, Becoming a Barbarian is an important work for anyone with an interest in such topics as Tribalism, Masculinity, Social Psychology, and even Heathenry (though this topic is used mainly as an illustration for the other points that Donovan discusses). Although I would have preferred if it were longer than its 160 pages, I cannot overly fault the author when his Laconic brevity is one of the main attractions to his work.
One minor point: The publisher was somewhat negligent in their responsibility to proof read the book prior publishing. It contains a number of grammatical errors and sentences that don't make sense. There is no excuse for this - it should be the easy part of producing a book.
Clear thinking and hard hitting the book meanders a little up until the half way point just trying to lay the ground for the second part where it really comes together.
Excellent points, excellent clear cogent reasoning, a valid addition to the book shelf.
You will see the world a little differently if you take on-board the fundamental premise of the tribe.
Jack Donovan is definitely part of my tribe
It's something no one seems to talk about
It's a pearl in a vast ocean of rocks
Mr Donovan has written an excellent book about men and masculinity.
First half of book deals with conflict between masculineity & tribalism and second part explores the changes in the mindset to deny comfortable lifestyle and adapt hardship.
This is one of unapologetic eye opening books ever seen..
Men today have been brought up with lot of lies. This book explores all the aspects and show how we should deal with with life..
I give 5 stars to this book. Must read.