Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bill Bennett- The Book of Man- Readings on the Path to Manhood (Thomas Nelson Books)

The introduction of talk show host/commentator/former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett’s new book The Book of Man is as thought provoking a handful of pages as I have read lately. In it he makes the case that the state of manhood in America has gone through a dramatic and altogether not good transition over the course of the past couple of decades.

While it is not Bennett’s premise, I think the case can be made that we can trace the current malaise we find ourselves mired in, to the pussification of the American male. We have steadily erased some of the cornerstones of what made men, men. And Bennett’s book wants to put in place a framework, through the written word, to put manhood back into its rightful place, by changing the way we teach the next generation of males.

Think about it. We have erased from our society some of the most basic tenets of manhood. We whimpify boys by not allowing them to keep score in youth sports; going a step further when we actually allow scoring in scholastic sports, teams who win a lopsided victory are chastised for “running up the score.”

We have raised a generation of men not to seek knowledge and pursue critical thinking skills, but to merely get good grades. I recently took part in a discussion with a college professor who studies generational differences who spoke of the disturbing trend where college students are likely to have a parent call a professor about a bad grade or even go so far as to bring along a parent on job interviews!

We have taught a generation of men that they are inconsequential to the family unit; that women are strong and don’t really need them around. Is it any wonder that we have tragic divorce rates, scores of children being born and raised out of wedlock and where in the 1950s 96 percent of males between the ages of 25-54 worked; today that number stands at around 80 percent. Yes, a full 20 percent, one fifth of men do not get up and go to work each day!

Where once men took care of families, the government now plays the role of provider. No I am not a chauvinist, women are certainly a vital part of the work force and the family, but how can you read these numbers and not see that we have created an unsustainable and growing problem of dependency.

The Book Of Man is not a prescription to fix this problem, but gathers the writings of great thinkers on a variety of topics including; Man at Work, Man at Play, and Man with Women and Children, which can at the very least envision a different sort of path to manhood than we currently find ourselves on.

I can’t help but wonder if instead of government handouts if we might see a greater benefit in handing out copies of Mr. Bennett’s book. I also have to wonder if the maggot-infested flock of Wall Street Occupiers might benefit from a copy of the Book of Man…maybe we could enlist someone to read it to them, or better yet, we could set up a large PA system and blast them with the audio book version 24/7.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Simon Toyne- Sanctus (William Morrow)

Scott Turow and John Grisham weren’t the first writers to write a legal thriller, but they set the tone and spawned phalanx of legal writers that churned out a library full of court room drama.

Tom Clancy wasn’t the first writer to knock out a military techno thriller, but he did marshal an army of writers who battled the forces of evil on millions of pages.

And Dan Brown wasn’t the first author the juggle ancient conspiracies in a modern setting, but he did guide a legion of wordsmiths who put quill to parchment and conjured up countless religious warriors, who protect a vault full of secrets.

While these authors set the proverbial tone, what separates those who follow from the rest of the pack is the ability to take the genre in a new in a new direction. Simon Toyne has done that with his debut thriller Sanctus.

Set in modern day Turkey, Sanctus details a mysterious religious sect that remains separated from the world in a mountain stronghold, the Citadel; protecting an ancient relic, known as the sacrament and it’s secret. If the secret were revealed it would change the face of religious belief, so the secretive brotherhood does whatever it takes to guard the cipher.

The intrigue starts early and remains at a steady pitch as competing forces battle for control of the secret. Keep in mind, if you need a firm grip on reality, then you’ll find yourself questioning things nearly every step of the way; this one falls firmly in the realm of the suspension of disbelief.

But that’s what a thriller is all about and Toyne it’s the right tone at the intersection of the ancient and modern worlds.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mitch Daniels – Keeping the Republic: Saving America by Trusting Americans (Sentinel)

Usually politicians author lofty treatises on their ideas or plans for changing, transforming or fixing America when they aspire to higher office. These books tend to be one part biography, one part historical and one part multi-point road map to fixing a problem.

The fact the Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has already declared his non-candidacy for the President, makes his new book Keeping the Republic: Saving America by Trusting Americans more intriguing.

Daniels’ book is a guide book for American exceptionalism. He not only understands that the only way out of the country’s current financial mess is to get government out of the way of the American people, he advocates that the answer lies with the people. Daniels knows that the more that government tries to fix the problem (that more often than not they created) the worse the problem becomes.

Daniels outlines the sheer immensity of the problem we are facing and ties it directly to the growth of government in our lives. In the chapter entitled “Shrunken Citizens” Daniels addresses the reduction of freedoms tied to government growth. It brings to mind the analogy of the frog dropped into a pot of boiling water that hops back out versus the frog in the pot of warm water that slowly has the heat turned up until it is cooked alive. The government intrusion has come a slow, steady, pace.

Daniels drives home the point while outlining the damage done by the passage of Obamacare. He details how government wage and price controls lead to business offering healthcare coverage. This has created the mindset is that somebody else will pay the bill, which has turned into an “inefficient model that has allowed Americans to grow accustomed to the idea to the idea that when it comes to the most personal and important purchase of all, those affecting their health, they are sheep, bystanders to the process in which they have neither the competence to decide what services to buy nor the intelligence to determine for themselves what price is too high for the value they are likely to obtain.”

Amazingly, Daniels approached his job with the seemingly unique mindset that he shouldn’t spend more of the taxpayers money than he takes in. Daniels is an example, or should be, of the new American mindset when it comes to government overspending.

It’s easy to understand why big government, Democrats misread the American people, thinking Daniels would be an easy political target when he ran for re-election. It was Daniels taking a tough stance on spending that transformed his state deficit to a surplus and positioned Indiana in a way to better absorb the recession of 2008.

Daniels approach to governance would not only see him easily win a second term, but also serve as a guidepost to leaders like Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey, Rick Scott in Florida, John Kasich in Ohio and Scott Walker in Wisconsin.