Read Manliness by Harvey Mansfield Online


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 canThis 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....

Title : Manliness
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780300106640
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Manliness Reviews

  • Brian Adams-THies
    2018-09-15 00:26

    This book is incredibly forthright in its gender bias. Mansfield has obviously been endowed by Harvard University to spew their usually conservative and elitist trash. He claims to be aware of gender studies and responding to that body of knowledge but he never truly engages any of the current theory or even ethnographic research. He ignores sexuality completely; he essentializes gender into two very specific and dichotomous categories; and he appears to celebrate/long for the "manly man" existant before Second Wave Feminism and that has very deep repercussions for women and supposed "non-manly men". The poor guy just seems to have been irritated by gender studies and decided to step out of his usual research on Machiavelli and indirect governance; or Edmund Burke. Essentially, this is an old, conservative Harvard professor paid to spew his idiocy and intellectual masturbation......if you enjoy being irritated with intellectual spooge in your eye this book is for you!

  • David
    2018-09-10 00:18

    Manliness, by the amusingly-named Harvey Mansfield, is not a self-discovery book, although it's shelved with them. Mansfield's thesis is that not much effort has been put into defining and characterizing manliness - both the positive and negative aspects of it. His approach passes the sniff test with regard to the inherent contradictions in the gender-neutral society, and several chapters are spent in a philosophical review of the philosophical underpinnings of feminism and its development. In truth, this is a book of philosophy. He makes a pretty coherent case that many of the approaches taken by those thinkers at the core of the feminist movement were less about changing the roles that men and women had and more about attacking the idea of roles at all - he shows the thread of will-to-power thinking from Nietzsche to de Beauvoir. One refreshing aspect of this book is that it serves as a refresher survey in a large number of philosophical approaches. I liked his concluding approach (based on John Stuart Mill) that the best way to address society in general on this topic is to increase the distance between public and private behavior and expectations. While his tone fluctuates from conversational to pedantic, I think this is still a pretty good book. He did make a connection that I hadn't thought of previously in a throwaway line - Darwinian evolution can be understood as a market-based approach to understanding speciation and diversity: neat!

  • Josh Rogers
    2018-08-27 21:11

    Most will dismiss it without a careful reading. Mansfield is a precise and nuanced thinker. This is a great piece of challenging philosophy that true critical thinkers will appreciate.

  • Mike
    2018-08-31 00:17

    So what a guilt-inducing book. My teenage daughter saw the title, read the back cover and said, “Wait, isn’t this a humor book? I don’t get it. Is this guy serious?” Her response, of course, would be viewed as vindication by the author for how far things have gone. So too would have been my laughably unmanly decision to take off its cover when I read it at a local coffee shop so as to not draw attention to its risible title (risible in today’s world). I feel half-heartedly guilty for liking the book as much as I did because it’s wildly politically incorrect (which in my view warrants cautious praise.) But the greatest cause of my guilt is for not liking it more. Professor Mansfield’s genius and erudition are beyond dispute. The man would receive an unironic “A” even in his own graduate seminars! It’s no surprise that the book offers countless insights, especially in its respective interpretations of liberalism and the ancients. What I found distressing about it, finally, was its departure from realism—a posture that Mansfield promotes as essential for appreciating manliness. Mansfield points out quite rightly that we human beings are wholes, and extraordinarily complex wholes. Moreover our nature (we do have one) is itself a standard that mingles with thought and human agency. The nature of our nature entails elements of freedom and ambivalence. His discussion of who we are is, to my mind, worth the price of admission; it’s fabulous. Mansfield excoriates social science and evolutionary biology for their intellectually violent reductivism. What’s lost in their respective approaches is human beings as we actually can know them. A powerful point for our consideration and an important argument for the ongoing necessity of philosophy and literature. So it’s a little sad how reductionist Mansfield is in his approach to social science, evolutionary biology, and feminism. Time and again, I wondered how this learned man who surely knows far more than me on every point of discussion could be so badly oversimplifying (reducing) the subject and ignoring crucial counterexamples. He's smarter and better read than I, so his reductionism must be by design. I understand his book is a corrective to our thought (and also is designed itself to be boldy assertive—i.e. manly), but how effective is a corrective that devotes so much of its argument sketching a caricature? Perhaps the issue is not manliness quite as much as crotchetiness. It certainly read that way much of the time. Mansfield also reduces the world in which we live to the world of thought, especially the thought of the greatest thinkers--and more often than not thinkers who lived well before the age of feminism. Mansfield examines who we are and how we live out our lives today not by observing our world nearly as much as taking us through an intellectual tour of great thinkers. Such an endeavor is always enjoyable and even rewarding, but I was never remotely persuaded that the feminists whom I encounter every day are somehow advancing a vulgarized and distorted version of Nietzsche’s thought, even unconsciously so, even mediated by third-rate thinkers. Nor is it true that evolution and social science can be disposed of by reducing them to their (disputable) core propositions and then cleverly revealing contradictions therein. I half-expected at some point for Mansfield to overturn leading and established theories of physics with a few clever sentences devoted to the metaphysics of Aristotle (who “never nods.”) Mansfield rightly appeals to common sense in the book’s opening chapters, but that appeal is too brief and ultimately abandoned. The last few pages of the book return again to a view of life as we really experience it today, not life as depicted in argument by a select handful of rarified thinkers of our past. And these pages are lovely. But they are a sharp (if welcome) departure from the reductionist approach to feminism he advances throughout the rest of the book.

  • Kang
    2018-08-29 23:35

    There are many ways to describe my problems with Mansfield's book, but the the most illustrative is to say that Mansfield's treatment of sex differences and by extension his treatment of nature is Hobbesian rather than Platonic. Mansfield constantly says things such as, "[women] are not as manly or as often manly as men" and then uses such observations as the basis for natural sex differences. This mode of argumentation was pioneered by Hobbes, who said that by nature fear of violent death is the strongest passion in men, b/c it is true for most men most of the time. Mansfield should have paid better attention to his teacher Strauss' criticism of that Hobbesian view of nature. Of course it's true that Manliness can and should be read on more than one level. It is also true, to alter a comment Strauss made regarding Machiavelli, that there is an irony beyond Mansfield's irony.Although I only give this book two stars, I believe that this book should be read and even studied. Unfortunately, those who are most in need of reading this book will not read it. There are those who will dismiss Mansfield's argument without consideration. Time is scarce, and they have better things to do than to question what they already know. Of course, just because an opinion is unquestioned does not mean it is not questionable. As Socrates indicated by saying that he knew only that he knew nothing.

  • The Thousander Club
    2018-08-31 23:22

    Reading a book called Manliness in public is a little awkward. At first glance it may look like a self-help book to help the unmanly become manly. Although Harvey C. Mansfield has a few things to say about that, Manliness is far more philosophical and academically esoteric than some would expect. In fact, who thinks about "manliness" from an intellectual perspective at all? Mansfield's book is fascinating and important but also a bit laborious.Manliness attempts to define and re-enshrine manliness in what Mansfield calls a "gender-neutral" society. Is there a place in such a society for manliness, which the author defines in part as not "mere aggression; it is aggression that develops an assertion, a cause it espouses." One of the most interesting sections of the book is its exploration of feminism and its precarious relationship with manliness; it both seeks to eradicate it but also embrace it. Should men be less manly but women more so? Furthermore, is manliness a social construction or an outward expression of natural impulses? And even more fundamentally, are women and men truly different? Mansfield brings his cerebral prowess to bear on these questions and showcases a great deal more thoughtfulness on these questions than is sometimes exhibited.Although it may seem odd, I am very interested in manliness as a subject of consideration and debate. From a personal standpoint, I feel attributes of manliness have been disparaged or shunned simply because we don't know how to comfortably fit manly behavior into a gender-neutral society. Reading a book like Gates of Fire or even canonical texts reminds one that manliness is not only a real thing but even desired. Of course not all manly behavior, just like not all compromise or all compassion, is inherently good nor should be accepted as beneficial without additional scrutiny. However, a great deal of manliness as a concept is rejected because it appears exclusionary. (And on some levels it is). I think this is a mistake, and I appreciate Mansfield's contribution to a topic I am personally interested in. I also realize I'm probably a part of a very small audience.Where Mansfield stumbles is in his insistence on providing far more textual interpretation than is necessary. Mansfield has plenty to share and opine about without providing pages and pages of commentary on existing texts. I completely understand the value of establishing concepts and ideas and by doing so with ancient or modern texts. However, at a certain point the author should realize I'm reading his book for his original ideas and writings, not Aristotle's. As someone who loves to write and certainly loves to quote other more capable writers, I absolutely see the value in spring boarding from existing knowledge and precedence, but eventually your interpretation of another author's writing becomes much, much less interesting than your own perspectives and outlooks.Manliness is a challenging book to read. It assumes (or maybe not) familiarity with a variety of authors that many readers may never have read before—myself included. I liked the book, and I love the contribution it makes to a topic I care about. The book's influence might be limited, but I learned a lot about the virtues and dangers of manliness and where it fits in our gender-neutral society.

  • Shona Candlish
    2018-09-16 00:31


  • Gary McCallister
    2018-08-30 23:18

    I did not actually finish reading this book. It is superficial, redundant, and has nothing useful to say.Methinks the man analyzes too much!

  • Hom Sack
    2018-09-20 02:29

    This is one of the most boring books I've read. I wish I had quit after the first 50 pages. The author was needlessly long winded, wordy, and obtuse. It drones on and on, uselessly banal, like a student tasked with writing a term paper that requires a minimal number of pages but only has enough material to fill a miniscule amount.The front inside book cover challenges: "This book invites—no, demands—a response from its readers." What manly man would not respond? The book is not at all a "wide-ranging" and "comprehensive study of manliness". The was no mention or discussion, for example, of the Japanese Bushido Code.Mansfield in the concluding chapter writes "I am not going to end this book by giving out pointers on how to live, though I supposed I could." I doubt that he could. Had he done so, it would have been a better book. He goes further, "My book is for thinkers, ..." Well, I suspect that manly men are more. They are doers as well. Come to think of it, what manly men would want to read a book like this?He extols the manliness of actors and fictional characters like John Wayne instead of people like Audie Murphy. Both were actors, but unlike the former, whom others have criticized that in real life never served in the military, the latter was a highly decorated war hero.In the use of fiction, Mansfield wants you to accept the fiction authors' creations to argue his point. Whereas in the use of non-fiction, he wants you to accept his interpretation of those authors' work. Did you happened to read all of cited works Nietzsche, Hobbes, Locke, etc. as he alleged had? I'm not even sure he knows any manly men. There were no reference in the book to any.I didn't buy any of his arguments. I think Naomi Wolf didn't either (

  • David
    2018-09-06 18:07

    I think the most interesting sentence was the last, "A free society cannot survive if we are so free that nothing is expected of us." I was hoping for a more clear definition of manliness. I left feeling that the author boils it down to assertiveness. Certainly that is an important part of manliness. I find myself following up on feminism. Is the radical feminism merely having women act like men? I'm not so sure. Certainly women sought to act more like men to move away from a passivity which seemed to define a lot of femininity going in to the 1960's. This book is work. It's not a simple read. I wasn't surprised to see in the author's bio that he was a contributor to the Weekly Standard. I do think his politics influences the book. That's neither good nor bad. I would call the author conservative and a critic of modern liberalism; however, I do appreciate his critique. Too often of late, conservative critiques of liberalism are overly simplistic and easily refuted. He offers more challenges. I do think his idea of the gender neutral state is an over simplification of an idea. I'm not sure there are many advocates for that. I do think we're in a transition period from how we defined the roles of men and women, and I do think it important to define both more clearly and with reference to both our natural inclinations, and to where we would like to be. Certainly this is a step in that journey.

  • Danny
    2018-08-28 18:24

    Mansfield presents a number of historical examples that reveal the social and psychological costs of second wave feminism, like how the rights and privileges of men have become divorced from the responsibilities of men, and how that has hurt men, women, and children. It's a dense read and really too academic to be completely useful to the lay-reader. I'm looking out for a book that can apply these ideas to more contemporary examples. I think that would be more compelling, and more helpful to men, women, and teachers while remaining a tad provocative.

  • Mike Horne
    2018-08-21 22:12

    Not as good as I hoped. Though I consider myself a Straussian (though I don't know what that means), and though I agree with much of what he says (though I don't know much about feminism)--I'd as soon read Allan Bloom. Mansfield's writing did not grip me (I am working on his translation of Tocqueville--that is heavy going too). Of course, I do have a series of trading cards called "Michael's Unmanly Traits Trading Cards" so what do I know.

  • Steven Wedgeworth
    2018-08-28 00:12

    Some interesting things. Some incomplete things. Some things a tad bit boring. The book has to be applauded for affirming the reality of gender distinctions and identifying "manliness" as a real thing that must be accounted for. At the same time, I'm not sure the author quite gets at true manliness, instead only highlighting partial manliness or reactive manliness.

  • Rita
    2018-09-01 01:07

    I kept having to check the publishing date, so much of it seemed a few decades out of time. Yet it was published in 2006. His references, his commentary all speak of an earlier time. I stopped reading after the third chapter. Not worth my time to read this pointless, outdated book. Published in 2006!

  • Shad
    2018-08-20 22:08

    Mansfield brings up a lot of good points and offers a reading of numerous classics I had not really considered, at least not consciously. Ultimately, I think he recognized the problem but comes up short of teh solution, yielding to modern society rather than accepting the ends to which his arguments led.

  • Jonathan
    2018-09-11 22:17

    You could really just read the first and the last chapter. An interesting brief run-through of Western philosophy and feminist theory concerning gender. Doesn't really give a solution on how to restore 'manliness' other than what the Greeks say: "Always in moderation".

  • Clivemichael
    2018-09-20 19:23

    Polemic monologue. An academic/philosopher's take on the then "current" gender definitions/roles. Somewhat acerbic and occasionally brilliant observations on being manly. I read this book years ago, some of it's "flavour" has stayed with me. Not for everyone.

  • Hubert
    2018-09-17 20:37

    Somewhat difficult to parse through; Mansfield is a brilliant thinker if at times inconsistent. His insistence on the idea of 'manliness' will irk many, but his gendered readings and projections of literary and philosophical figures and ideas aim to inspire.

  • miguel
    2018-09-12 02:10

    Jamie won't let me read this book. But it's fine; this book is so great that it surpasses mere words and actual "reading." Yeah, I know, it's that good. If I could give this book six stars, I would.

  • Steve
    2018-08-28 20:07


  • Bakunin
    2018-09-20 02:12

    Couldn't be bothered to finish the book. Mansfield approaches an interesting topic but fails to provide a complete theory; instead his insights remain... parochial.

  • Ronald
    2018-09-05 23:33

    Okay, I get it, and I agree with much of it, but this is one heck of a hard book to read. Make sure you've had Philosophy 101 and 201 before jumping into to this one.

  • Tom
    2018-08-26 18:28

    uitstekend boek over mannelijkheid in onze cultuur. Aan te raden!

  • Josh
    2018-09-12 02:17

    This was an interesting one...

  • Robert
    2018-09-08 18:19

    A book I was unaware of by a reputable Harvard scholar . . . recommended by my friend Jonathan.

  • Jonathan
    2018-09-14 02:31

    This guy literally wrote the book on Manliness. Hard cover. Signed by author for Jon.

  • Kristina
    2018-09-17 19:07

    This book sucks! Read it if you want to get angry and/or incredibly depressed.

  • Zach
    2018-08-26 23:12

    A great work of political philosophy, and something of a polemic against modern feminism. Mansfield's intellectual history of feminism suffices as a critique of feminism, res ipsa loquitur.

  • Jonathan
    2018-08-28 02:15

    Soft Cover

  • Shaun
    2018-09-16 00:23

    Interesting, but even for me, a bit wordy. Basic thesis was good (in my opinion), but some of the passages were needlessly obtuse. Coming from me, that's saying something.