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The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man

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Man up and discover the practical and inspirational information all men should know!

While it’s definitely more than just monster trucks, grilling, and six-pack abs, true manliness is hard to define. The words macho and manly are not synonymous.

Taking lessons from classic gentlemen such as Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, authors Brett and Kate McKay have created a collection of the most useful advice every man needs to know to live life to its full potential.

This book contains a wealth of information that ranges from survival skills to social skills to advice on how to improve your character. Whether you are braving the wilds with your friends, courting your girlfriend, or raising a family, inside you’ll find practical information and inspiration for every area of life. You’ll learn the basics all modern men should know, including how to:
-Shave like your grandpa
-Be a perfect houseguest
-Fight like a gentleman using the art of bartitsu
-Help a friend with a problem
-Give a man hug
-Perform a fireman’s carry
-Ask for a woman’s hand in marriage
-Raise resilient kids
-Predict the weather like a frontiersman
-Start a fire without matches
-Give a dynamic speech
-Live a well-balanced life

So jump in today and gain the skills and knowledge you need to be a real man in the 21st century.

288 pages, Paperback

First published September 17, 2009

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Brett McKay

33 books699 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 217 reviews
29 reviews2 followers
August 28, 2011
This review is a supplement to the excellent review which V_Shaft has posted.

This book, like Brett and Kate McKay's blog, is useful for what you choose to take from it. No, this book will not magically transform you into manly man or a Victorian gentleman or whatever kind of man you aspire to be. The title of the book is The Art of Manliness, not The Philosophy of Manliness. The subtitle is Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man. But for the guy who wants to learns some classical skills of male etiquette, this book is very useful.

In the section Dress Like A Gentleman, the McKays skip casual wear. Most men today know how to do casual. Instead, they focus on how to look sharp when the occasion calls for it. BTW, a pocket square doesn't look old-fashioned; it makes a guy look well-dressed and wealthy---and this book can tell you how to fold one, three different ways.

In the section Fight Like A Gentleman, instruction is given for the most basic moves in Bartitsu, one of the precursors to modern mixed martial arts. It is still taught in martial arts schools today. While the chances of being attacked carrying a cloak and cane are exceedingly slim, the odds of being attacked when a sturdy stick (a tree limb, a tire iron, a baseball bat) and a large piece of fabric (a jacket, a blanket) are involved are pretty good.

Among the many sections of the book are sections giving tips on how to woo and marry a woman. Contrary to much feminist advice today, many women still enjoy being courted by strong, decisive, and romantic alpha men. Thirty years after women's lib, romance novels still sell like like your Grandma's hot-cakes. This book gives you the know-how. If you like romance, don't act like a jerk because you think it attracts women---you'll end up driving off the women you really want. On the other hand, if you really are a jerk, by all means, act like it. You will likely get a woman who is a b*tch herself.

To sum up, this book won't give you the theory, but it will give you the practicum if you feel like some of the refined skills of adulthood are alluding you.
Profile Image for Teo.
Author 13 books10 followers
April 23, 2011
From the founders of the popular website of the same name, comes a book about the (lost) art of manliness. I was a casual reader of the said site, and I found some of the advices there useful, but to say it'll really bring you from a wuss to a manly man would be an overstatement. And, just like the site, this book is a mixed bag.

First of all, I thought it would focus on the notion, or ideal of manliness. As it turns out, it's more of a how-to guide for doing things the authors deems as manly. That alone lowers the worth of this work - because it won't change your mind framework and your way of thinking, just give you a few tips n' tricks without really telling you what a man should be. In other words, it's superficial, and does not change a man from within. And also, the authors' vision of what is manly is, to say the least, debatable.

The book is divided in 8 chapters focusing on different aspects of manliness:

1. The Gentleman
2. The Friend
3. The Hero
4. The Lover
5. The Father
6. The Outdoorsman
7. The Leader
8. The Virtuous Man

In these chapters, "TAoM" will tell you, among others:

- How to shave like your grandpa
- How to help a friend with a problem
- How to perform a fireman's carry
- How to deliver a baby in a pinch
- How to land a plane without the pilot
- How to be a perfect houseguest

... and so on. While these are surely manly skills, they won't exactly transform you into a manly man. One can still be a basement dweller who knows how to shave like his grandpa. However, there are also thing like:

- How to give a man hug
- How to tip properly
- How to rock a pocket square
- How to ask for a woman's hand in marriage
- How to ask your fiancé's father for her hand
- How to give your woman flowers like a Victorian gentleman
- How to braid your daughter's hair (which the author assures us is as manly as tying a sailor's knot)

One cannot help but awkwardly raise an eyebrow at many of these "manly" tips. First of all, the author assumes you will be indeed going out dressing like a Victorian gentlemen, and builds from that. In this day and age, this is simply absurd. But Bret McKay claims that is the way men should be garbed today. I am supposed, for example, to hang out with my friends somewhere, dressed in a full, custom-tailored suit and shined shoes, with a derby on my head, a handkerchief in my breast pocket, and a cane in my hand. Yeah, sure. I'd to that, if it's Halloween and I'm going trick-or-treating. Furthermore, a following chapter even teaches you how to fight with your cane against another cane-wielding time traveler from the Victorian past.

Bottom line is, some of the advices are extremely outdated and just not applicable in the modern society. I mean, before the Victorian dandies, people were walking around naked but for loincloths. Other wore bearskins and the skulls of their enemies dangling from their waists. That was manly once, but I doubt you'll be walking outside dressed like that.

When not only outdated, some advices are the diametric opposite of manly. I'm mainly referring to The Lover chapter. If you don't want t behave like a complete pussy and beta man, I suggest you don't use these "tips" in practice. The chapter (and the one about marriage) is steeped in feminist propaganda which puts a woman on a raised dais and lowers the man to the status of a slave who has to dance on her every whim. You're even provided with a chart detailing the subtle meaning of every flower, so you can combine them accordingly with your apology while you're kneeling in front of her begging for forgiveness or expressing your unwavering adoration for this most noble and precious creature of all in the Universe. To top it off, one of the most absurd statements advises you to walk on the outside of the sidewalk, so that, I quote, "your lady [is] farther from the traffic. This way, if someone is going to be splashed, it will be you, not her."

Yes, really manly, no doubt, not to mention that it goes against pretty much everything affirmed in studies dealing with behavioral psychology of women. They do not want you to act like that. They search for alpha males (the definition of the term being far too complicated to discuss here), not whipped dogs that cower in front of them.

All the bullshit aside, there are indeed some valuable advices to be found within these pages (like the ones about raising resilient kids), while other are simply meh. When all is said and done, I felt that much of this book was filler to reach a page quota, and certainly far from being some invaluable manly wisdom. Much of it are general tips and how-to's that you knew one way or the other. To conclude, "The Art of Manliness" is a very mediocre read.
Profile Image for Jim.
362 reviews90 followers
March 21, 2013
I'm always moaning over the generally boorish behaviour of your average North American male, so every once in a while I like to read a little something to refresh those parts of my memory that deal with culture and etiquette. This book seemed ideal as it promised to deal with classic skills and manners for the modern man.

The book lives up to its promise, sort of, as it does touch lightly on manners, dress and propriety, but most of the book is nonsense. Well, not nonsense, exactly, but a bunch of malarkey that will never be encountered by one man in a million. How to land an aircraft, for instance. Or treat a snakebite. Predict the weather. Tie knots. Fight a man with your overcoat. In other words, a bunch of filler. This is a book I could have written: just give me a book of etiquette, a copy each of the Boy Scout and Toastmasters manuals, any book by Dale Carnegie, and a first aid workbook, and I could have cobbled this together in a couple of weeks. If I had any instinct for success or profit, I could have been making money from a book like this instead of spending money on it. Full points to the McKays for outsmarting me on this one.

The book does have some parts that adolescent males and I will find amusing, such as this delightful excerpt from page 73: " the home, transformed by the period's so-called "cult of domesticity", had become an effeminate, doily-laden foo-foo abode...". Come on, that's funny right there, as Larry the Cable Guy would say.

Another thing that got my goat was the fact that the book is poorly illustrated. There are rather crude drawings to illustrate teaching points, but the points the authors chose to illustrate puzzled hell out of me. As an example, they go on a laborious explanation detailing how to tie a Windsor knot in a tie with never a diagram to shed some light on the mystery (other than a drawing depicting the end result). Later in the chapter on chivalry they have a captioned drawing of a gentleman holding open a door for a lady. I would have preferred if they had permitted me to trust my imagination for the mental image of opening the door but given me a diagram of the steps of tying the knot.

Ultimately, I believe any male of my advanced years should be in possession of most of the information found herein. The book has a lot of good information in it, and does have a niche in the reading world. If we could get every male to read it at puberty, maybe it would do some good, but most adult men should have already been taught this behaviour by their fathers.
Profile Image for Tom Metge.
4 reviews1 follower
December 19, 2012
Being married for 10 years to the most wonderful woman I have ever met has taught me something that we all tend to admit only intellectually: men and women are different, even radically different at times. The American society tends to devalue that difference in the name of seeking equality. This goal is admirable, but the approach is wrong-footed. This is why I love this book: it asserts that there is value to this difference, that there is worth to being a man. What is wonderful about this admission is that, unlike our society's current approach to establishing gender equality, it assigns value to one gender without stripping it from the other.

Others have said it and I will repeat it here: I wish I had read this book earlier in my life. The skills it teaches can be quaint but the message it sends is one I will share with my sons: being male is part of who we are and that is a good thing. Just as good, in fact, as being a woman.
Profile Image for Geoffrey Morris.
30 reviews18 followers
September 30, 2012
There's a lot of bullshit in this book. For one, it denigrates individual therapy with a very broad brush, which is 1) crap because most of us emerge from our initial family life in an immature state, and no amount of walking in the woods will fix that and 2) it tells people like me, who have literally been saved from death by their own hand because of therapy, that they're wasting their time in therapy. So fuck you, Brett McKay. I'm sure that you would have given my mother a really convincing argument about how building a fire without a lighter would've kept me from jumping off of a bridge.

There are some good things in here. The main thing that's obvious is that men need the community of other men, in person, on a routine basis. If that's not group therapy, I don't know what it really is. He's advocating therapy while denigrating it and cloaking what he considers socially acceptable in a shroud of "manliness". What the fuck ever, dude.

Brett McKay's writing makes him seem like a complete dick.
Profile Image for Khanh Cao.
34 reviews
March 3, 2018
All in all, quite a book on how to practice the Art of Manliness.

I should have given it a 3, but for the enjoyable last chapters, I give it a 4.

Most of the book involves in doing a set of particular things, to meet "a man's standard", but it does not answer the question "how do those things trigger a man's masculinity?", "what is the underlying psychology mechanism?", etc.. Just like when you give someone great examples to follow but you forgot to tell them what are the underlying meanings of those, why the bad guys act like the bad guys and if in any other circumstances, would they act differently, etc...

My opinion is, if one hasn't got a good foundation on manliness theories already (such as the answers to these questions: what should be the core beliefs of a man, what should the viewpoints of "me" in another man's eyes be, etc..), reading this book may make you feel a little bit off track, and even if any progress is made, it will most likely have short-term impact.

However, one should still read it if he is unclear of the actions he should take, but has already been sure of what his values and beliefs should be.
Profile Image for Josiah.
18 reviews
March 11, 2012
"Manliness" has found itself sequestered to either the macho realm of false bravado or the neutered face of too many sitcom dads. This book finds a more measured approach to the topic. General etiquette need not be lost with the rise of Facebook, there's nothing wrong with uphoding basic etiquette towards women while simultaneously championing gender equality and there's nothing "gay" about having close male friends that--only in recent generations--have been frowned upon if the connection goes further than "drinking buddies" or guys to vent your womenly troubles with. The book mentions men it perceives to be of great virtue (some of which I questioned, but not wholly) such as Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin and others who felt it okay to be a good man through virtuous acts and honest attempts at improvement...regardless of the push from any religious entanglement or guilt. It hearkens to a more "romantic" age where men could be exalted as "manly" without being arrogant, sarcastic, sexist and homophobic. It was difficult for me to find much to disagree with, although I always shy away from looking at any period of time as the ideal age of anything. It's a proper etiquette book for the post-enlightenment and post sexual-revolution generations and an interesting read for any guy looking for some inspiration and tips for improvement. It's witty, straight-forward and full of amusing anecdotes and "how-to" guides. I was entertained by it but--more importantly--found myself in some serious introspection that has lingered since reading it which seems to have been the author's ultimate goal.
Profile Image for Will Wilson.
252 reviews6 followers
December 18, 2021
A great book loaded with a lot of instructional material that anyone might find interesting . I recommend booking marking pages of things you find interesting then after you finish reading out those things into practice such as learning how to locate Polaris , using your watch as a compass, or how to be a great party guest .
Profile Image for Pvw.
298 reviews29 followers
March 12, 2013
A truly remarkable book! At first I feared it might contain a lot of drabble about etiquette rules, but that fortunately wasn't so. Although that subject is mentioned, there are many things more, one of which is sound advice on how to be likeable to other people. Many of the behavioral principles resemble those found in Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, and justly so.

"The Art of Manliness" contains interesting tips on how to dress well, descriptions of different kinds of hats and ways to tie a tie. But those are just a few of the myriad of subjects appearing in the book. "The Art of Manliness" teaches you streetfighting, changing a flat tyre, landing a plane, rocking a crying baby to sleep, entertaining a lady, breaking up gently with a girlfriend and giving a manly handshake. All of that is contained in a stylish cover that perfectly fits the text and the illustrations. A great book to own yourself, and to give to a friend.
Profile Image for Adil.
99 reviews
October 22, 2011
The Art of Manliness is a guide to becoming a better man by focusing on one's mannerisms, dress, and intelligence. The book posits that modern men have become stuck in 'permanent adolescence' and are not up to task on the necessary virtues and strengths which belonged to the men of the past.

Leaning upon past paragons like Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin, this book covers different aspects of becoming a better man in today's society by eliminating time-wasters, maintaining cleanliness, and upholding fidelity. Different sections include: The Gentleman (improve your manners and physical being), The Friend (become a sturdy and reliable acquaintance), The Lover (become a faithful and committed husband or significant-other), and The Leader (project confidence and learn to shoulder some responsibility).

This book, while highly idealistic, is an essential read for what the authors call 'The Lost Generation' of current men.
Profile Image for Eric Moote.
240 reviews10 followers
July 18, 2012
Overall: a great source of essential to random qualities every man should have or strive for.

I have been a fan of the website for years and I was excited when this book and the Manvationals came out. The book, at times, felt like a summary of all of the website's articles, but for the not-so-fanatical, the book is a perfect balance of sage wisdom, inspirational advice and kick-in-the-pants motivation that every man needs from time to time.

I would and have recommended the books and the website to every man, boy, man-boy, and woman that I know. They are great sources of topics that will lead you down the path of discovering who you are as a man, husband, brother and friend.

Buy the book. Then read it. Then give it away as a bachelor party / groomsman / birthday / coming into manhood / "you are a sissy boy and need a swift kick in the shorts" present. Then follow the website.
Profile Image for Risa.
86 reviews11 followers
January 12, 2010
I am adding this to my read because i read it for free in Border's, which took 2.5 minutes and reviewing it because half of the motherfuckers who put this on their "to-read" list have faces that look like they shave with a lawn mower blade strapped to a broom handle and wielded by a blind monkey-- so I am telling you now that you do not need to put off reading this for long; you will need hardly forfeit an entire afternoon and you might actually take an interest in your appearance and its affect on others by 3pm that very same day. Really, why put it off? Don't you feel inspired to go read it and take it into your heart right this very minute? The worst thing that could happen is that you might learn to shave, actually tie a tie that doesn't look like a noose, and learn how to teach a kid to ride a bike. there are worse fates.
Profile Image for Jim Razinha.
1,246 reviews61 followers
July 20, 2017
Quaint idea...at once mawkish, pretentious, humorous, pseudo-proper...the discerning reader needs to filter the foppish silliness for the sagacity that is secreted within the product of two very full of themselves writers.

Rephrasing: there actually are good concepts hidden among the authors' perceptions/notions of "manliness"...and there is a lot of affectation, whether innocently conveyed or deliberately crafted I neither know or care to find out. Pick from the parts that make sense. And try to keep the condescending smile to yourself...

(This is a quick read if you have any cosmopolitan sense at all...)
Profile Image for Abdulrahman.
116 reviews57 followers
May 25, 2020
كتاب جيد حقيقه، الكتاب بدأ من مدونة و قناة يوتيوب بنفس الاسم كنت اتابعها منذ فتره، و تحول الان الى كتاب.

يمر بشكل سريع على جوانب متعدده جدا يجب ان يتحلى فيها الجينتلمان العصري بطابع كلاسيكي، ابتداء من كيف تلبس بدله و قبعه، مرورا بكيف تدافع عن نفسك، كيف تنصب خيمه و تقشر سمكه في رحلة تخييم، اتكيت الحديث مع الاخرين، كيف تكون حبيب، زوج، و اب راقي، و انتهاء باخلاقيات و افكار يحملها الرجل المتزن.

اتفق مع الكاتب ان كثير من الشباب و الرجال فقدوا طريقهم و اتزانهم بالاتصال مع الرجل بداخلهم، بدون اظهار الرجوله بداخلهم بطريقه سامه لانفسهم و من حولهم، كثير من الرجال بدأ يحرج نفسه و يتصرف بطرق عجيبه لا ترقى لأسلوب الرجل المتزن .قد البعض ينزعج من تقنين الرجوله في قالب معين لكن ما اظن هالشي في تعارض مع الحريات الاخرى في كيفية اظهار الرجوله، هو فقط اعطى فريم كلاسيكي لكيف يتصرف الرجال القدامى مثل ثيدور روزفيلت و ويستن تشرتشل و غيرهم

الجميل ان الافكار الرئيسيه للكتاب يمكن تطبيقها حتى في ثقافتنا العربيه.

تشابترز الكتاب:
1- الجينتلمان
2- الصديق
3- البطل
4- العاشق
5- الاب
6- رجل الكشتات
7- القائد
8- رجل الفضيله
88 reviews3 followers
February 12, 2020
Meh, learnt I was polishing my shoes wrong all my life but I doubt I'd remember how to tie a strong knot after reading it in this book. Good idea for the book though but probably wouldn't recommend it.
Profile Image for Jonathan Johnson.
253 reviews1 follower
November 29, 2021
Good book

Good book
This book hits all of the points
From chivalry to self care, every page of this book is devoted to trying to help guys become better men
I recommend this book for guys graduating high school as a right of passage book, or for men that are currently expecting a child and want some tips on being a good father/husband
Profile Image for Paul.
1,090 reviews27 followers
April 20, 2022
I think I mainly started reading this because I couldn't find anything else to read. I was hoping it would have more specific advice, sometimes the corresponding website has useful tips and tricks. This was mostly a sort of etiquette guide aiming at a specific conception of "manliness" that lives somewhere between nerd and hipster. I think at one point they suggest that you wear a fedora, which is really just not something most people can pull off.

It's not the most moralizing type of thing that I've ever read, but they do not do the critical step of saying, "If you do X, the consequence will be Y". Instead, they say, "You should do X", as if the advice they are giving out is universal and always applies. There are some things where I could obviously see how it would be useful to do some of the things they suggest, but I had to work that out myself.
Profile Image for AJ.
67 reviews2 followers
July 9, 2016
Pros: If you always wanted to be a boy scout and have a strong male role model and never got the chance, this will help fill some of that gap. Except that role model will take the form of a well-meaning but out-of-touch grandfather. That said, I learned some great life skills, and it motivated me to want to try some new things I haven't done before. It also made Victorian-esque Gentlemen seem really cool. I appreciated the effort in putting this book together and the careful consideration of what was of value to include, there was just enough in each section without it being overwhelming. The narrator on the audiobook was excellent.

Cons: A heterocentrist, heterosexist viewpoint that is critical and dismissive of femininity in men. At times the language was cringeworthy and it was tough to overlook. This book was also pretty out of touch when it came to discussion of relationships.
Profile Image for J.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
1,206 reviews45 followers
June 9, 2015
I loved this book. I wish I could force every single beibertard I pass to read it. Excellent advice throughout, I hope my daughters use this measurement of a "real man" to pick their future husbands.

Books that interest me in a topic enough to cause me to look that topic up always get bonus points and I found myself jotting more that one "look this up" reminder.

The narrator did an excellent job.

If I have any problem with the book it's in the chapter suggesting civic duty and encouraging men to give back to their community. I agree with those ideas whole heartedly, but the chapter is kicked off with a statement about how some people are born with a disadvantage. The only people that are born with a disadvantage are people who believe they've been born with a disadvantage.
Profile Image for yoghurt .
393 reviews2 followers
April 15, 2022
could be pretty useful if it wasn't 99% pictures and 1% text but taking into account that i expected a macho sexist manly man book, this more than exceeded my expectations
Profile Image for Nicolás Rivera Guth.
1 review1 follower
August 28, 2017

Es un libro con fundamentos básicos para la masculinidad, pero con consejos avanzados para ser un caballero respetable. En muchos pasajes pude ver a mi abuelo, a mi padre o a los señores de antaño y fue muy motivador. Un 10 de 10.
21 reviews
March 18, 2023
As a traditional Catholic, I was initially excited to read Brett McKay's book "The Art of Manliness". Upon reading it, I found that it offers practical advice for men on a variety of topics, including self-improvement, communication, and relationships. However, while the book has some strengths, it also contains elements that are concerning to me as a Catholic.

One area where the book excels is in its discussion of chastity. The author encourages men to resist the temptations of pornography and hookup culture, and instead promotes healthy relationships and sexual self-control. This is consistent with Catholic teachings on sexuality, which emphasize the importance of respecting oneself and others, and preserving sexual intimacy for marriage.

The book also offers helpful tips on physical fitness, personal style, and communication skills. The author's advice on these topics is practical and actionable, making it easy for readers to implement his suggestions and improve their lives.

However, the book's promotion of the Freemasons and acceptance of homosexuality are concerning. The Catholic Church has historically opposed the Freemasons, viewing them as a threat to Christian values and beliefs. The Knights of Columbus would have been a better recommendation for a fraternal organization men can join. Similarly, the Church teaches that homosexual acts are morally wrong. While I believe in treating all people with respect and dignity, I cannot endorse views that contradict Catholic teaching.

Additionally, the book's comparison of baptism to being covered in a child's urine is disrespectful to the sacrament and offensive to Catholics. While I understand that the author may have been attempting to be humorous, I believe that this type of humor is inappropriate and offensive to many readers.

In conclusion, "The Art of Manliness" offers some valuable practical advice for men, particularly in the area of chastity. However, its promotion of the Freemasons, acceptance of homosexuality, and disrespectful treatment of baptism detract from its overall value. As a traditional Catholic, I cannot recommend this book to others who share my beliefs and values.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
607 reviews25 followers
May 10, 2017

True to the subtitle, this book does deliver advice on skills and manners. It covers a wide range of topics from clothes to communication, dating to friendship, and work to play. It’s pretty much what you would expect if the title were “The Art of Gentlemanliness.”

Some of the skills covered don’t seem to me to deserve the label “something every man should know,” like how to make a kite out of black trash bags and sticks, but I could be wrong. I also found it curious that they stressed the importance of knowing how to box in case you’re caught in a bar fight, but not of having a basic knowledge of firearms.

The final chapter on virtue is basically a summary of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, which I should read soon.

Mostly I finished feeling like a slacker for not:
- Dressing better
- Being a member of the Masons
- Going camping more often
- Buying my wife roses using commonly understood Victorian-era messages based on the color and type of flower
- Knowing that the emergency radio frequency for an aircraft is 121.5 MHz (I mean, duh!)
- Having any confidence whatsoever that I’ll remember that the emergency radio frequency for an aircraft is 121.5 MHz if the plane I’m on suddenly needs me to pilot it to the ground (I really hope this part was tongue-in-cheek, but I couldn’t tell from listening to the audio edition)

Overall, it’s worth the read, but beware: you might feel like you need to man up!

Potent Quotables:

“Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.” Swedish proverb

“A boy doesn't have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn't like pie when he sees there isn't enough to go around.” E. W. Howe
Profile Image for Billie Pritchett.
1,068 reviews84 followers
October 19, 2018
In The Art of Manliness, Brett McKay sets out some of his and his wife's ideas regarding how a man should think and behave in the 21st century. I personally enjoyed the many different approaches McKay took in addressing manhood. For instance, McKay argues that in addition to so-called traditional manly tasks like changing a tire, chopping wood, and so on, a man ought to cultivate his mind through books, absorb some philosophy, and adapt his character to fit the different roles he occupies as a son, romantic partner or husband, friend, leader. That's all good. What didn't sit well with me about the book is that I don't think it ultimately came together to form one picture of a modern man. I was having difficulty picturing what this man would look like, and some of the examples he cites I think err toward some extremes and not others. For instance, Teddy Roosevelt may have been adventurous but by all accounts he was a very egotistical person. Jack London was quite the outdoorsman, but I wonder how he fared as family man--and I couldn't imagine his type in an office setting. Another problem with the overall project, I think, is that manliness or masculinity, whatever it may be, ought not be something someone is too self-conscious about it. Among my own generation, early millennials, I see men so concerned with 'acting like men,' but I never saw this concern among my father's or grandfather's generation. Now, it may very well have been a concern, but I didn't see it. In any case, it seems to me to be more important to cultivate oneself as a good person, citizen, religious being, and everything else will follow naturally. My two cents.
Profile Image for Henry.
492 reviews7 followers
June 5, 2021
- Always arrive with a gift to the host

- Always complement host for hosting

- While in a group conversation, always make room so others can join

- Also in group conversation, never always just speak to one person

- If in a group conversation people are saying mean things about another person, always defend such person

- When staying with someone, always make sure the person has your schedule. Be thoughtful, bring gifts, pay for groceries, write thank you cards

- Always be intentional with someone you want romantic interests with, never ask to just "hang out"

- Be thoughtful and bring flowers during special occasions (or better - during surprise occasions). In addition, know which flower represents what

- When marrying, you're marrying into the girl's family. Hence, very important to get them well, especially get the father's blessing (ask to spend private time with the father, meet several times in neutral areas: coffee shops etc, before asking for blessing)

- Know "the one": 1) You don't want to change anything about her, 2) she gets along well with your family and friends, 3) she is your best friend, 4) she has intense physical and mental chemistry with you

- Be funny, but never make stupid humor that shines dark light on you, your equals or the venue. Have tasteful self deprecating jokes

- Good to be involve with a group, such as: Book club, fraternity lodge or Toastmaster

- Never name drop, experience drop, one up (when someone said others does something great, you have the urge to say "well, I'm better"). Always give credit when credit is due
Profile Image for MariLee.
648 reviews21 followers
June 16, 2017
Brett and Kate McKay have found a niche in writing about the art of being a gentleman--a man's man--as defined by character traits in days gone by. Their theory (which I believe to be true) is that we have lost something in our modern, technology-driven society regarding the development of self-reliance, character, practical skills, fitness, and manners. They often refer to men such as Jack London, Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, and others who can serve as models of what today's men can and should be.

This book is a manual of sorts that is divided up into different sections such as The Gentleman, The Friend, The Hero, The Lover, The Father, The Outdoorsman, The Leader, and The Virtuous Man. Each section is further divided up into subheadings and actionable items, along with detailed and practical advice for mastering each of the skills or traits.

I enjoyed reading this and would recommend it for older teens and younger men, especially as they are leaving home, during the college years, early married life, etc. (Heading Out On Your Own, another of their books, is especially designed for young men leaving home for the first time). However, there is enough information that would likely appeal to men of any age, especially those who may be interested in continual self-improvement. I would also recommend their blog http://www.artofmanliness.com/ which is enjoyable and includes much more information.
Profile Image for Omar.
29 reviews1 follower
June 18, 2020
To be frankly honest the title is quite misleading, there is no in-depth articulation in what makes a man through either skills or manner, it was never gender exclusive except of course when describing multiple ways to tie a tie. But the other part of the title that the book is focused on is the classic part of manliness, the attitude to life and the skills needed to perform them.
Of course these skills and manners can be argued to be gender neutral but many parts focused on the common traits of previous inspirational men; from Marcus Aurelius to Benjamin Franklin. And that is what saved this book for me, in which the last two chapters, especially the last one; the virtuous man, fixed the book's most major flaw; forcing you to read a guide. How to read the stars in case you get lost in the desert at night, (how to wash your clothes???), etc.. which are not only boring to go through, but also merely survival skills that can't under any circumstances be called "manly skills."

The only way I see most of this book working is being target at a modern pansy spoiled teenager.
But even then, I highly doubt that kind of audience would care for such a book.

Alas, the last chapter was great and left a sweet taste in my mouth, which is exciting me for another Brett McKay book, which goes more in-depth into the "virtuous man" domain; "Manvotionals."
20 reviews1 follower
May 9, 2020
If you are looking for a few tips on how to man up, and become a modern gentleman, this book provides several good insights. Written, along with help from his wife, by the founder of a popular website for men that bears the same name, this book contains well-rounded information. The author, Brett McKay, recognizes that the roles have changed in society for men and women. This has led to some confusion and helped served as an impetus for this book, with the goal to help men refine their identity and approach. McKay recognizes the dynamic life men must lead and chapters topic titles include the gentleman, leader, friend, lover, hero, leader, outdoorsman, father and the virtuous man. Within the chapters men can gain advice on style, dating, service, how to give a speech, plan an effective bachelor party, make a kite, tie a few basic knots, effective communication and how to transition into marriage. Lessons from influential men in history, such as Teddy Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin are woven into the book. Rudyard Kipling's poem If is also included along with a Flower Meaning Guide for men looking to have some meaning behind their petal sacrifice. Many illustrations are included in this quick read, which is bound to encourage the man looking to boost his game.
Profile Image for Eric Estes.
51 reviews1 follower
February 2, 2022
I have browsed and read McKay's website over the years and found it entertaining and helpful. It's good that there are sites like his that explore things that men generally like. Most of the advice in the book can be found on the website. The book is a bit dated now, so the section on Social Media needs updating (it was still good etiquette advice though). There are some sections that were less than useful. Describing self defense in steps is not going to prepare anyone. He doesn't consider discussing firearms and conceal carrying to protect your family (maybe he doesn't want to be too controversial for some readers). Like other reviewers have said there are biases towards the author's particular perspective of what manliness is. I didn't read this as a philosophical tome on manhood, but an entertainingly written advice book that one can glean for ideas. One may not always entirely agree with the advice or how the author colors certain topics with his opinions, but I for one didn't read this as an overly serious book.
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