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Harvey C. Mansfield

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Why do men need to feel important? It's their manliness. But is manliness obsolete? Is it even a virtue?

This book invites—no, demands—a response from its readers. It is impossible not to be drawn in to the provocative (often contentious) discussion that Harvey Mansfield sets before us. This is the first comprehensive study of manliness, a quality both bad and good, mostly male, often intolerant, irrational, and ambitious. Our “gender-neutral society” does not like it but cannot get rid of it. Drawing from science, literature, and philosophy, Mansfield examines the layers of manliness, from vulgar aggression, to assertive manliness, to manliness as virtue, and to philosophical manliness. He shows that manliness seeks and welcomes drama, prefers times of war, conflict, and risk, and brings change or restores order at crucial moments. Manly men in their assertiveness raise issues, bring them to the fore, and make them public and political—as for example, the manliness of the women’s movement. After a wide-ranging tour from stereotypes to Hemingway and Achilles, to Nietzsche, to feminism, and to Plato, the author returns to today’s problem of “unemployed manliness.” Formulating a reasoned defense of a quality hardly obedient to reason, he urges men, and especially women, to understand and accept manliness, and to give it honest and honorable employment.

Harvey C. Mansfield is William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government, Harvard University.

A selection of the Conservative Book Club  

"Manliness is an essay in definition, defense, and due criticism of the spirited assertiveness that men have in their nature and that a few men (and a very few women: think Margaret Thatcher) have in spades. . . . Readers of Manliness will be alternately charmed and exasperated, but they will be challenged to think, and as a result may well view the world differently than they did before. . . . Manliness deserves to be compared to Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind as an unforgettable wake-up call to our slumbering liberal society."—Charles R. Kesler, Claremont Review of Books

"Manliness . . . is a most unusual book. . . . Manliness is also a deeply creative work, one which endeavors to reinterpret Western political philosophy in terms of its chosen theme—a bold as well as an innovative project. . . . Manliness is an important and thoughtful book, one that probes many subjects and brings into play the widest range of literature, from the philosophical works of Plato and Aristotle to novels of Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain to the research of contemporary social scientists. Mansfield manages to illuminate all of these works through the intellectual prism of manliness. . . . Manliness is not merely an engaging book about philosophy: it is that much rarer thing—a genuinely philosophical book that enlists the reader in the adventure of thought."—James Piereson, New Criterion

"Annoying at times (often!), but never uninteresting, this book has much of importance to say."—Arlene Saxonhouse, University of Michigan

"A work of thought as well as a provocation, Manliness deserves to be widely read, argued over, and pondered."—David Bromwich, Yale University

"Mansfield argues that manliness—in its combination of stubbornness and rationality—provides a ground for political life. His work is a thoughtful attempt to move us to think more clearly about who we are, and about the future of our liberal society."—Mary Nichols, Baylor University

"Thoughtful, vexing, and ultimately irresistible book . . . neither a chest-thumping celebration of masculinity nor a scientific snore on ‘biological maleness.'"—O TheOprah Magazine

"Enthralling. . . . [Mansfield's] assertion of what manliness is is thrillingly argued and never less than fascinating."—James Bowman, New York Sun

"Mansfield . . . is a distinguished scholar of political philosophy at Harvard . . . [who] sets off into America's treacherous sexual wilderness with a clear destination in mind: to rescue manliness from the bear-like clutches of its enemies, in particular feminists and advocated of a gender-neutral society."—Kay S. Hymowitz, Commentary

"It’s a subtle exploration about the virtues and vices of the thymotic urge."—Frank Rich, New York Times

"Mansfield’s defense of what, politically, has become indefensible by anyone wanting to keep his reputation intact is most welcome."—Theodore Dalrymple, American Enterprise

"A full-throated defense of manliness."—Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review

"Manliness [is] Harvey C. Mansfield's definitive treatment of the cult, and culture, of the macho."—Stephen Whitty, New Jersey Star Ledger

"Quaint."—Maureen Dowd, New York Times

"A marvelous new book. . . . If my readers want to delve more deeply into the subject and its ramifications to the moral and social order, read this book. It was a long time in the writing, and harvests the reasonable thoughts of a man who has shot his roots deeply into history and philosophy, and is therefore capable of holding his ground with more than raw courage. . . . Read Mansfield’s book for the question of whether manly virtues may be abstracted from men, per se. The answer is, yes."—David Warren, Ottawa Citizen

"Manfield's book provides us with a unique opportunity. While feminists and girlie-men anchors are pummeling him on the public stage, privately men should return to thinking and discussing manliness. First, we must once again teach our sons what it takes to be a man. We must once again instill in them traits such as responsibility, strength, commitment, courage, dignity, service, fitness, self-reliance, duty, honor, brevity and respect."—Rick Martinez, Raleigh News & Observer

"Mansfield argues that efforts in Western society to equalize the status of men and women are doomed to failure."—Kevin Horrigan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"This is a book no-one else could have written . . . few American professors can be so unsackably eminent that they can afford to stroll through such a minefield of political incorrectness. . . . This is a fascinating book – part co-ed, part philosophy treatise, part cri de coeur. Unthinking liberals will dismiss it; thinking radical feminists will hate it. The rest of us (including thinking liberals, but perhaps excluding humourless ones) will find its jokes deliciously dry, and its arguments subtle and strong."—Noel Malcolm, The Sunday Telegraph

"[This] new book entitled simply Manliness amounts to a spirited defense of the male psychology."—Joseph R. Phelan, Washington Times

"Amusing, refreshing, and outrageous observations. . . . Many readers will be grateful to him for his candor and bravado."—Christina Hoff Somers, Weekly Standard

"This is a book that tries to think deeply—not merely polemicize—about being a man or woman. . . . This is a brave effort to tackle a difficult subject."—Robert Royal, National Catholic Reporter

Selected as a 2007 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries
ISBN: 9780300122541
Publication Date: April 4, 2007
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4