The Code of Man: Love, Courage, Pride, Family, Country
Few contemporary writers can write with such verve on such diverse topics as Machiavelli and Teddy Roosevelt, Rousseau and EraSmus. (He) writes in an easy, laconic style. A portable, semester-long course on Western norms of masculinity.
- The Weekly Standard
Men are now waffling in a society that can’t decide if it wants them to be unprincipled wimps or wildmen… According to Carleton University professor Waller Newell in his new book THE CODE OF MAN, the problem stems from a cultural amnesia that began when we turned our backs on 3,000 years of accumulated wisdom. The villain here is the counterculture movement that began in the 1960s and which initiated a 30 year project to eradicate the traditional teachings about manliness. What we need now is a positive account of what it means to be a man. This is an exercise in retrieval: We must seek the five manly virtues of love, courage, pride, family and country in the past, through the writings of great-souled men such as Homer, Aristotle and Montaigne. We can certainly learn a great deal about these virtues, and much else besides, in the great books. For example, you won’t find anything that improves on Aristotle’s definition of courage as the mean between cowardice and mad daring. When it comes to erotic relations between men and women, Newell is surely right to say that the wisdom of the ages can be captured by the maxim “love perfects.” We love someone because they have characteristics that we long to possess, and a loving relationship is a partnership in which each is complimented by the other. This is good stuff…
- The National Post
Provides an erudite and often very witty exegesis of 5,000 years of Great Books and recent popular culture…
- The Globe and Mail
Newell’s work is an unapologetic attempt to reeducate Americans about the nature of manliness, as it addresses not the question 'What is a man?' but 'What is a good man?' Newell openly calls for a return to the pre-1950s tradition of academics writing for popular appeal. He combines a critique of modern immorality with praise of the five paths to manliness, around which the chapters are constructed: love, courage, pride, family, and country. Violent events such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine tragedy, and 9/11 are a wake-up call for society to recognize that we have strayed so far from the values-based foundation of the past that sociopathic repercussions are the result. Newell makes suggestions for correcting the degradation of the five virtues… Appropriate for large public and academic libraries.
- Library Journal
THE CODE OF MAN is a timely reflection on those virtues and qualities that attach to genuine masculinity. In pellucid and jargon-free prose, Newell weaves his way through western philosophy, literature, history and even pop culture to rediscover a reliable compass for the recovery of the true meaning of manhood. Drawing on Plato and Augustine, Seneca and Shakespeare, John Kennedy and John Lennon, Eminem and Homer Simpson, Newell offers the not-so-secret ingredients required for a man to claim a satisfying life: love, courage, pride, family, country…. (T)he book should be on the must-read list of teachers, clergy and parents. Certainly, fathers should give their sons a copy for Christmas. But they should also give one to their daughters.
- The Ottawa Citizen
Building on his 2000 anthology What Is A Man?, Newell’s latest book on “how to be a man” challenges the stereotypes about uncaring and belligerent bearers of XY chromosomes. Tracing ideas of manliness through the work of such Western writers as Aristotle, Homer, Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway, among many others, Newell argues for a return to traditional ideas of manhood to inspire young men to treat other and themselves with respect. He reminds readers that men need “the five main ingredients of a satisfying life”: love, courage, pride, family and country. Through the ages, Newell writes, love meant sensitivity and nobility, while courage and pride were about “the struggle to defend and extend justice and to overcome our own baser instincts.” Somewhere along the way, though, the image of the traditional “manly heart” was lost, and men turned to misogynistic machismo and senselessly violent behavior to prove their manhood. Newell insists that a balance among the five manly virtues is the key to reversing the contemporary man’s detachment from loving-kindness and his tendency toward “brutal spasms of reactive violence” (such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine high school massacre and the 9-11 attacks). Those resistant to reducing men and women to a set of natural character traits take note, for this book certainly considers the Mars/Venus school of thought a flawed accomplice in undermining all that is positive about men and their potential contributions to a just and happy society.
- Publishers Weekly
"In many ways,” Waller R. Newell writes, “young men today are in deep spiritual trouble. But they are also yearning for a way back to the noblest ideals of American manhood.” The Code of Man represents a deep and thought-provoking effort to help guide contemporary men back to those ideals, as embodied in what Newell calls the five paths to manliness: love, courage, pride, family, and country.
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, he argues, we have grown so concerned about the roles of sex and violence in our society that we have forgotten the older virtues: romance and eros, courage and patriotism, the blend of love and bravery it takes to raise a family. In The Code of Man, he exhorts us to look to the traditional virtues of the past for inspiration. Contrasting the time-honored lessons of traditional voices — Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln, Jane Austen and Teddy Roosevelt — with the chaotic signals emanating from sources like Eminem, video games like Thrill Kill, and Goth culture, Newell illustrates how we have come to associate courage with violence, “transgression” with wisdom. Most disturbing, he argues, the essential triumph of Western culture may have left us with a building reserve of untapped aggressive energy, and no consensus about how to channel it — a situation that threatens to weaken us at the core.
Seamlessly weaving together literary references from a diverse body of sources, Waller Newell offers an open-eyed look at what it means to be a man in America today, and a clarion call to recapture our traditions if we are to preserve our character as a society … and avoid catastrophe.