Thursday, April 06, 2006


Recommending books I haven't read or even perused is not a habit for me, but I want to make an exception. Manliness, by Harvey Mansfield, is the kind of secular book that drives much of Christianity crazy. To be honest, I'm presuming in part that this is a great book because of some of the people who have tried to shred it.

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to hear Mansfield, an oft-assailed Harvard professor, speak at a symposium at Regent University on the future of American conservatism. I took pretty copious notes and planned to put a decent summary post together, but that hasn't happened. I'm blaming my historical theology professor and the NCAA tournament.

Mansfield's sharp wit in that presentation was exceeded only by his sharper mind. Although I'm not as well-versed as perhaps I ought to be on classical and philosophical conservatism, it was clear that Mansfield's fellow presenters looked to him as a paragon in their field.

Manliness appears to be an incisive look at gender, American culture, and the battle for good ideas. The Weekly Standard recently published a review by Christina Hoff Sommers. She writes:
Mansfield's amusing, refreshing, and outrageous observations must already be causing distress for his Harvard colleagues. But many readers will be grateful to him for his candor and bravado. Today, when scholars acknowledge sex differences, they do it timorously. They follow every assertion of difference with a list of exceptions, qualifications, and caveats. Into this world strides Professor Mansfield, loaded for bear, and lethally armed with all the powerful stereotypes thought to be banished from bien pensant society. And he deploys them without apology in shocker after shocker
I hope to tackle this book during the summer. I'll look forward to hearing from any of you who pick it up sooner.

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