What is a man?
3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue
"WHAT IS A MAN?, Waller R. Newell’s new 800-page book, is an asteroid hurtling toward our planet – and if I am not mistaken, it is headed straight for the Tower of Babel, the construction that produced the babble about sexual matters that we all now speak. Brilliantly timed, conceived, edited and introduced by Professor Newell, WHAT IS A MAN? is an anthology of buried treasures. It is unlike any recent book for the general reader I know of on the relations between the sexes. Newell's inspiring book is about how to build manly virtue – which sounds antiquated because manly virtue is all but forgotten or remembered only in parody. But manly virtue, he argues, is our best hope of bringing men and women together with respect and dignity."
– Norman Doidge, author of The Brain’s Way of Healing
"WHAT IS A MAN? violates all of the norms of political correctness by reminding us that men have specific virtues B virtues that are neither the watered-down qualities of niceness and compassion, nor aimless and violent aggression. This rich anthology will be an eye-opener for many, but particularly for the young men who are most confused about how they are to act in life."
– Francis Fukuyama, Standford University
"WHAT IS A MAN? is that rare sort of book that rewards serious study while delighting and inspiring the casual reader. The meanings and the perplexities of manhood are illuminated by an assemblage of literary gems culled from the greatest writers at their most incandescent."
– Thomas Pangle, University of Texas at Austin, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
"Newell’s anthology covers an astonishing range and is a constant source of ideas about a neglected, almost a suppressed, virtue.
– Kenneth Minogue, London School of Economics
In an age notable for its increasing effeminacy, nothing could be more timely than Waller Newell's WHAT IS A MAN? This splendid guide to the higher sources for a proper understanding of manliness is a welcome antidote to the emasculating moral confusions of our age."
– Gary L. McDowell Director, Institute of United States Studies, University of London
"As we ponder a graduation gift for that special young man – or search perhaps for a companion guide for ourselves as we go about the task of raising, teaching and forming our boys – we could do no better than the inspiring new anthology of readings gathered and edited by Waller Newell. Drawn from a wide range of sources – Plato, Homer, Shakespeare, St. Augustine, Tolstoy, Yeats, Jane Austen, de Tocqueville, Tecumseh, Stephen Crane, Frederick Douglass, John F. Kennedy, Milan Kundera, and a host of others – the readings reveal Aa nobly inspiring tradition of manliness that stretches more or less continuously down through the ages, an unbroken pedigree of agreement about what manly virtue entails, expressed in vividly contrasting portraits and an enticing variety of types. If we cut our boys off from this tradition, or allow the notion of manliness to be lost to simplification or caricature, Newell argues, our boys will turn to coarse, sometimes violent, substitutes. Need we look far to see the truth of which he speaks?"
– American Educator
"An intrepid professor offers a novel prescription for the ills of society. Surely everybody, male or female, knows what it means to be a man. Not necessarily, warns Waller R. Newell, and that is why he has assembled this 800-page anthology of the best thought of three millennia on the attributes of manhood. It is an inspired collection and, given our prevailing orthodoxies, even a courageous one. In no other single book have I encountered such a comprehensive sweep of the subject, able to provide inspiration, guidance and even solace."
– The National Report
"Every college freshman should be required to read this book in a course of the same name…This is a highly sophisticated, scholarly and thorough presentation of true masculinity. It contains excerpts from Greek and Roman mythology, the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, Shakespeare, Plato and other great works of world literature and philosophy. This is not an elaborate version of those popular, feel good, fashion or pop psychology publications…The studied and thoughtful selections from the Great Books alone makes this book worth the price. Author Waller Newell makes the past relevant for today. His selections demonstrate that true generosity, courage, good humour, compassion, virtue, and above all love, have not changed. Newell=s book is a profound anthology of moral and political philosophy and sound practical advice. Newell concludes his book with his own brief essay. In many ways I think it is one of the best in the book. He sums up the basis for his choice of his selections with the phrase 'love perfects'. It is an apt umbrella for this anthology."
– Millard W. Shealy, Jr. U.S. District Attorney, Charleston, South Carolina
"Waller Newell, author of a new essay collection titled WHAT IS A MAN?, says (a) realignment of male virtue is overdue. “For the last 20, 30 years, we’ve been telling men that you can either be a wimp or a beast,” Newell says. “They are both unsatisfactory alternatives.” (We need) the missing middle ground. (Such a man is) strong. He’s reliable. He absolutely devoted to his family. He’s brave. But he’s also decent and modest. Newell says this balanced manliness that women find appealing is closer to age-old ideals, much like the views that Winston Churchill wrote about British adventurer T.E. Lawrence, famous as Lawrence of Arabia."
– U.S.A. Today
"WHAT IS A MAN? is a book fathers will want to give to their sons. More importantly, it’s a book that every father should encourage his daughters to read. I can’t think of a better code of conduct for a young man, or a better code of expectation for a young woman. You’ll do well by your children to bring this wisdom-filled anthology to their attention. Perhaps it’ll guide your son or daughter in forming enduring relationships."
– The Ottawa Citizen
"(Newell) is a rising star among international political philosophers and himself an example of one of the ideals of mature manliness – that pleasing combination of the contemplative and the active man. His prose is exceptionally witty and accessible, and his psychological insights are profound. There are outstanding selections by Shakespeare, Cicero, Churchill, Xenophon, Rousseau, Roosevelt, Tocqueville and Theophrastus. There are selections on the manly lover, how fathers can earn authority, unmanly temptations such as adultery, the wise man, boys into men, the statesman, valor, integrity, honor and confused men."
– The Catholic Educator’s Resource Centre
"This book – 3000 years of reasoned arguments and wisdom about manly virtues by the greatest minds in history – is an outstanding achievement and a great gift for any boy or man, or girl or woman frightened or confused by manliness; it’s an ideal bar mitzvah gift, since for Jews becoming a man is a religious rite…(I)t is the perfect Father’s Day gift for the man who has everything, except manliness. Or, who has it, but might wish to remind himself why."
– The National Post
"Waller R. Newell says that defining manhood is experiencing new conflict as a new generation of men attempt to forge their own conception of manliness. Pointing to social experiments intended to “eradicate any psychological and emotional differences between men and women,”
Newell asserts that the rise in violence between the sexes may well have increased…The most important thing to recover in the “crisis of manliness,” Newell says, is the recovery of a sense of honor, bravery, and respect towards loved ones. The need among young men for heroes, Newell argues, endures….(M)any fabulous selections (are) included in…this 800-page volume."
– The Weekly Standard
"What is a man? Good question. According to Waller Newell, the last few generations have been a bad dream during which the answers to that question have been obscured. Modern representations of manhood as diverse as Chuck Palahniuk’ s Fight Club and David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men are cited as proving his point. Organizing excerpts from a variety of Western literary sources into eight broad sections, Newell traces what he sees as >an unbroken pedigree in the Western conception of what it means to be a man.= But even if your masculine ideal differs, the book still makes for a fascinating compendium. Newell sees the lost hero in all of today=s apparently baffled and frustrated men (he even refers to a squeegee guy with a Mohawk as a “road warrior Achilles.”
"Historian Waller Newell collects three thousand years of the most thought provoking writings on the subject of manhood. The discussion (addresses) the consistency of the ideals of manliness and the confusions facing some men in contemporary society."
– Talk to America
"If you’re tired of looking to jailed sports figures and lying politicians for inspiration, you'll delight in this wonderful book. Providing guidance and inspiration to men and boys, Newell=s illuminating commentary addresses everything from wisdom to chivalry to nobility. From Sir Thomas Malory on love, honor, and charity, to Shakespeare on leadership, from Jane Austen on pride to Theodore Roosevelt on family life, each person contributes perspective to this exploration of virtue and masculinity."
"Waller Newell, a political scientist and philosopher, believes thirty years of social engineering have pushed manly traits underground. From the writings of Homer to John F. Kennedy, Dr. Newell had amassed a collection of essays touted for depth and range. His solutions approach is a departure from the scores of books published about men and boys that have focussed primarily on problems. His answer to some of the violence and alienation experienced by young men is to reclaim the manly archetypes of the past."
- The Dallas Morning News
"How do we account for the rising numbers of violent children? Doubtless many factors are at work, but one of the most important may be the crisis of manliness. Waller R. Newell…details the rising price we are paying for our foolish experiment in gender leveling… Our hubristic effort to undo biology is failing and the history of Western civilization is not the long nightmare of male oppression of women that feminists imagine. Perhaps…the best way to convince boys and young men to treat others with respect is to raise them in the traditional virtues of manliness."
– The Manchester Union Leader
"An anthology of 3,000 years of the finest and most thought-provoking writings on the subject of manhood. The list of authors is truly impressive, from Aristotle and St. Augustine to Charles Dickens, Ben Franklin, Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain."
– The New York Post
"Some time ago, Shakespeare wrote, “What is a man?” The question remains still somewhat of a mystery. Newell offers countless responses in this highly diversified anthology…All possibilities of manliness are explored: bravery, chivalry, eroticism, sexuality, aggression, hostility, violence, morality, love, and being a boy, husband and father. Newell=s pithy commentary adds the necessary touch of irony and, yes, insight into the unending search for manliness. What it means to be a man (in any age), with all of its attendant virtues and vices, is a complex subject, not readily agreed upon, understood or accepted. Newell, with his new collection, suggests persuasively that the quest should continue. Recommended for all public libraries."
– The Library Journal
"Waller R. Newell is breaking the taboo, daring to speak the unspoken, to discuss answers to the whispered question: What is a man? But Newell is no Iron John. He's skeptical about men's consciousness and his answer to feminism in not to dress in wolfskins, bang drums and howl in the forest. What he has tried to do was to find cultural traditions of manliness from the time before feminism, when masculinity was supposedly so self-evident that it didn’t even need to be defined. He found enough to fill the 800-odd pages of this book and then some…The manly traditions that Newell would bring back to the fore include honor, chivalry, courage and virtue…"
– The Canadian Press
"WHAT IS A MAN (is) a collection of writings on manhood, ranging over 3,000 years. It includes essays by Marcus Aurelius on self-mastery, Jane Austen on gentlemanliness, Geoffrey Chaucer on bravery, Queen Elizabeth I on duty, and Homer on fatherhood, with commentary by Newell. The final chapter addresses the confusions of being a man today, and the problems of violence and media representation."
– Patricia Pearson, author of When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence
"Philosophy professor Waller R. Newell is breaking a feminist-imposed taboo, daring to explore what makes a man manly in an anthology of writings from sources ranging from Plato to Kurt Cobain."
A" volume that compiles selections of writings on the subject of manly virtue (including passages from Shakespeare, Rousseau and Jane Austen), Newell’s book is a tribute to that most rare specimen of true masculinity, the gentleman. Newell’s conception of a true manliness includes impeccable manners and a moral groundedness."
– The Globe and Mail
At a time when all of America is debating the wayward course of contemporary manhood comes this rich and eye-opening anthology of 3,000 years of the most profound and inspiring writing on the subject of manliness. A source of guidance and inspiration, this wisdom-filled collection also reflects on the confusions of modern manhood by addressing contemporary issues through voices as diverse as James Dean, David Foster Wallace, and Kurt Cobain. Reminding us all of the relevance of file manly tradition, What Is a Man? offers a readable and revelatory guide to the virtues of men of their best.