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Building Men for Others
on February 8, 2017
Jeffrey Marx is a Pulitzer Prize winning author (for investigative reporting, not for this book), who takes on the question of what it means to be a man in our society. He does this by following former Baltimore Colt defensive tackle Joe Ehrmann for a year while Ehrmann helped coach a Maryland high school football team. This team has two goals each season – to win the league championship and to beat their rival high school. But their methods, well, that’s the point of the book. The book focuses on the coaches’ goal of Building Men for Others and on the mantra that everyone on the team memorizes: What is the coach’s job? To love the players. What is the player’s job? To love each other. This is not football as most fans see it, but what does it do to the kids on the team?
As Marx tells the story, it builds character, it builds strong and positive relationships, it heals pain, and it Builds Men for Others. In a time when gender roles are changing radically, Marx presents an image of masculinity that is neither traditional (one might think of “a man’s man”) nor revisionist. Instead, it present an image of both strength and vulnerability, an image of individual character and of team character. Although Marx began this quest as a detached investigator and as an author, he closes the book by describing neither what happened to Ehrmann nor what happened to the players on the team; he closes the book by describing how the experience affected himself.
The book is very well written and it is easy to read (as one might expect from a Pulitzer Prize winning author). It takes about 2-3 hours to read. It is a good book for anybody interested in exploring what it means to be a man in our society, for example, a sports coach or a new father of a young son.