This book aims to explain the nature of man and masculinity, using both historical and present-day examples to paint a picture of what makes a man. Today, anyone with a penis is biologically considered a man, so the author delineates the difference between being a man and “being good at being a man.”
“A man who is more concerned with being a good man than being good at being a man makes a very well-behaved slave.”
In the past, you were a man through survival and warfare. If you were surviving or fighting in battle, you were a man. Today, any retard who can speak in complete sentences and push buttons on a smartphone will survive. Anyone who knows how to use a credit card can see the world in comfort. Even combat is becoming robotic and detached, like playing a video game.
In spite of modern progress, men still want to be men. Their attempts at masculinity come out in other forms, like bodybuilding, training in MMA, becoming a policeman or fireman, trying to bang a lot of women, and simply reading war histories or the biographies of great men. The Way Of Men explains how all of us seek a path to expressing our masculinity in a world that is trying to punish and control it.
“Men are dropping out and disengaging from our slick, easy, safe world. For what may be the first time in history, the average guy can afford to be careless. Nothing he does really matters, and—what’s worse—there is a shrinking hope of any future where what he does will matter.”
The book picked up steam in the second half where the author’s voice strengthened when talking about the damaging effects of modern culture on masculinity. One thought provoking question he asks is: what do men have to gain with a feminist utopia? You quickly realize there is almost no benefit to the pile of crap that the ism ideologies are trying to force upon you today (and don’t say easy sex, which I have debunked in the past). They’re not making you more of a man, they’re not making your family stronger, and they’re not increasing your happiness. The minute it takes a woman to show a man what it takes to be a man is when men stop being men. And that’s what’s happening now.
“Aren’t most men today spoiled mamma’s boys without father figures, without hunting of fighting or brother-bonds, whose only masculine outlet is promiscuous sex?”
This book was important to me because it described the why of my current existence (and likely yours as well). Why do I get satisfaction from collecting flags and notches? Why do I like sticking my dick in a lot of different vaginas? Because in today’s world it’s one of the easiest ways to express my masculinity. While I’m sure I possess some genetic features that pushed me towards this outcome, I’m a man of my environment. I would have probably had a different “hobby” if I was born a couple generations ago.
“One of the great tragedies of modernity is the lack of opportunity for men to become what they are, to do what they were bred to do, what their bodies want to do.”
This book should be required reading for all American men, containing brilliant insights I had not previously considered. It clearly shows how your masculinity is being muzzled in order to achieve an experimental result that doesn’t serve your interests. Highly recommended.
This well-written book claims that the internet is changing the way we think by shortening our attention spans and preventing deep focus, making our brain addicted to shallow information that’s received in small cocaine pellets. It also claims that it’s decreasing our dependence on memory. The internet is doing all the remembering for us, atrophying critical memory centers of the brain.
“When we outsource our memory to a machine, we also outsource a very important part of our intellect and even our identity.”
The author argues that a technology like the internet has a deep influence not only on our lives but conscious human thought, keeping us in a state of distracted hunger. On the other hand, he concedes that deep thought is an anomaly for humans. Ancient humans skipped from one sensory cue to the other like what the internet enables us to do now, which is why we’ve taken so well to it. It tickles our primitive brain.
“Every click we make on the Web marks a break in our concentration, a bottom-up disruption of our attention—and it’s in Google’s economic interest to make sure we click as often as possible. The last thing the company wants is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. Google is, quite literally, in the business of distraction.”
I was pleasantly surprised that the book reviews brain functioning, neuroplasticity, and how important inventions like the alphabet, map, clock, and printed text changed the way we think and communicate. I learned how our brain is impacted by everyday things we take for granted.
I bought this book because I’ve become concerned that I’m getting addicted to the internet. I’ve had to stop myself from compulsively checking a loop of email, blogs, and social networking sites for new information as if I was possessed by a demon, making me wonder if my internet habit isn’t that much more useful than watching television. Chances are you don’t even remember 5% of things you read on the internet yesterday, let alone a couple hours ago.
I also know I can’t be the only one who has lost the ability to concentrate on long articles on the web. I’m forced to use Readability’s “Send To Kindle” feature to read articles later without being plugged into the internet. It’s just too tempting to have a million windows open and hop around them like I was a kid in a candy store where I rather be entertained with short-form content and pictures.
Overall, this book does an excellent job of reviewing brain research and interviewing experts to explain what the internet is actually doing to us. No matter how great an invention is, there will be downsides that must be examined.
The Rule Of Empires examines imperial rule in seven failed empires: Roman Britain, Umayyad Spain, Spanish Peru, British India, Napoleonic Italy, Britain’s Kenya colony, and Nazi-occupied France. It argues that a main reason empires fail is by enfranchising their subjects, who demand greater rights and power.
“Stable imperial rule is an impossibility in an era when self-determination has become a basic human right and transnational flows of wealth, people, ideas, and weapons mean that no community is truly isolated. [...] By the turn of the 19th century it became increasingly difficult to consign Europeans to the kind of subhuman subjecthood that was central to profitable imperial extraction. [...] The voting western European public considered themselves civilized and moral and would not tolerate a return to the excesses of earlier imperial eras.”
In the past, a ruler could get support from his citizens to invade another country by saying he was doing it for the strength of the nation, but this reasoning today will not get you majority support. Modern empire builders have to say they’re doing it for the good of the subject people instead of for national glory, ultimately making extractive empires politically unsustainable.
A common trend in the fall of these empires is that the locals get tired of paying tribute to their masters, a bunch of people die, sometimes over the course of a hundred or more years, and then the masters leave because it’s no longer profitable or acceptable (from a humanitarian standpoint) to run the empire. The author therefore places great detail in how empires of run. Instead of giving you battle detail, he goes through empire organization and administration, even at the level of tribute-collection methods. This book is better suited for budding bureaucrats than warriors.
The author repeatedly stresses that the overall point of conquest is to enrich the empire through looting or colonization. The cost of invading should be more than offset by booty gained. He argues that since America does not plunder, it is not an empire. It invades countries at its own expense ($3 trillion cost for Iraq war will be paid by Americans, not Iraqi oil), meaning that it will starve itself unless it is better able to exploit its imperial subjects, either by stealing their resources or labor.
In the end he brought things full circle with an epilogue about the recent Iraq war…
“Operation Iraqi Freedom was an attempt to use imperial methods in an age when formal empires are no longer practical, viable, or defensible.”
Even if formal empires are legitimate today, the occupation of Iraq was “unquestionably one of the most pathetically inept imperial regime in recorded history.” Events from America’s nation-building efforts are almost slapstick and would get laughed at by any of history’s famous conquerors. We’re great in showing strong bursts of military power, but horrible at extraction.
Overall, this book is extremely pedantic with a level of detail that wore me down. It does not have sub-headers for its mammoth chapters, just one river of text that doesn’t seem to end, making it feel more like an academic work than fun Saturday afternoon reading. The timeline is also not linear—within chapters the author jumps around until you’re not sure what exactly you’re reading. The chapter on Napoleon was especially sloppy, making me feel like I was looking at raw research notes. It’s definitely not a history book for newbies, but it kept my interest because so much of the information was new to me. If you don’t mind to read what feels like a raw data dump, then you may like this.
Why do I insist on reading these mammoth history books?! Because Wikipedia doesn’t have enough detail. I want to be in the driver’s seat as the greatest men in history made decisions that shaped their world. In that respect, this book doesn’t disappoint.
Russia Against Napoleon dispels the myth that Russia won simply because of weather or luck, assertions that have remained over time as mostly Western authors have written the history of the Napoleonic Wars. The author closely examines the Russian side and how their superior military planning and strategy defeated Napoleon, whose stale tactics and rough diplomacy were outwitted at almost every turn by the Russian Tsar Alexander.
Russia’s plan for 1812 was actually one of scorched earth retreat, aimed to wear out Napoleon—and the strongest army ever seen in Europe at the time—without losing a lot of men. Besides some relatively minor mistakes, it couldn’t have gone much better for the Russians. Their disciplined rearguard killed the morale and strength of an increasingly hungry Grande Armée, who were forced into a too-little-too-late retreat that cost Napoleon most of his men.
What I liked most about this book was that it gave you a birds-eye view of statecraft, as if you were in the same room when war decisions were being made. It made you almost feel like you were getting to know the leaders on a personal level. Other things the book taught me:
- Even the most brilliant of men will make poor decisions.
- War is fluid: the victor does a better job in taking advantage of his opponents mistakes.
- Wrong decisions in hindsight seem like the absolute best move at the time.
- There existed a formula to winning wars of the past: get an advantage over terrain, attack when you have the upper hand, and exploit enemy mistakes.
- Underestimating your enemy is how many wars are lost.
- There’s nothing wrong with retreat. Better to preserve your army for a future battle when you have an advantage than face total annihilation.
- Even in time of a war where your country’s future hangs in the balance, men can’t help undermining their side due to jealousy, resentment, ego, and pride.
This book is not without its problems. There are so many characters that you get confused easily and are not sure who is who. The amount of detail was too much for me, almost to the point where I couldn’t believe that we knew so much about events that happened 200 years ago. For example, the author talked about specific farms that the armies got their horses from and how it impacted the cavalry of each side. There was a lot of discussion about bureaucratic logistics and accounting. The book also didn’t have any maps, so unless you know 19th century European geography, you’ll only have a vague idea of where the battles were taking place.
My eyes would often fall heavy when reading, but I was pleased when I finished it. This is the type of book that you go out and celebrate when you’re done.
This book is like a shorter and less eloquent 48 Laws Of Power but for leadership. Some of the things I learned from it:
- You can’t do it all yourself—you must assemble a team. Leaders mobilize resources instead of trying to do it all.
- Leadership is nothing more than influence. If you have followers, you’re a leader.
- “Leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.”
- People naturally follow others who are stronger than themselves.
- Leaders give hope that tomorrow will be better.
- A leader’s potential is determined by his inner circle.
- People don’t follow causes, they follow leaders.
- The greater the leader, the more responsibilities he must take on and the more he must give up.
- “Success is the greatest threat to tomorrow’s success.” What gets you to the top won’t keep you there.
This book had a few negatives. First, it got a little too self-help with what to me was common sense. Second, some of the pages seemed to be filled with fluff just to hit a certain page count. Lastly, the “Applications” section at the end of each chapter was impractical. For example, some activities involved asking a friend to monitor you for a week on random leadership traits.
In spite of the book’s flaws it does provide a lot of value by sharing helpful anecdotes, quotes, and explanations that teach you about leadership concepts. I think you’ll get the most use out of it if you’re a manager in a corporation and want to move up the ladder than if you have a little internet business on the side. Overall it’s a quick, entertaining read that is a good starting point if you want to learn more about leadership. I definitely have a better idea of what it takes to make a strong leader than before.
Professional use of propaganda started in World War I. When the war ended they simply shifted its use against consumers to sell them more crap under the banner of “public relations.” The reason that the word propaganda began having negative connotations was because the American government kept calling out “German propaganda” as having deceit and lies, forever anchoring the word to its more underhanded uses.
The father of propaganda and author of this book, Edward Bernays, is either evil or a genius, depending on how you look at it. He was one of the first guys to apply what was known about the mind to the task of trying to influence the masses. His whole motivation for doing so was because he felt that societies can only function when an intelligent elite guides the decisions of the ignorant masses.
“It is on the men inside, working under conditions that are sound, that the daily administration of society must rest. [...] The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
In other words, the modern use of propaganda is a way to control the masses and help them navigate a confusing, dangerous world. Bernays believed that superior human beings should “help” inferior humans with how they think and how to live their lives.
“Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses. Is this government by propaganda? Call it, if you prefer, government by education.”
There are many corporations who you are loyal to. Ask yourself, how did this loyalty develop? Why did you first buy their product? In a crowded market of many options, the reason you chose to deal with a particular corporation is because they “educated” either you or a friend who recommended them to you. Corporations are gigantic entities with loyalty only to the dollar, meaning that a person’s rabid love of an entity like Apple or Chipotle is an unnatural connection that came about by manipulating the subject in ways that he refuses to understand. It’s brainwashing on a mass scale, aided by science.
Consumers think they are making decisions based on sound cost-benefit analysis, but there are men in suits somewhere who targeted you, your desires, and your insecurities in a way that increased the chance you would give them money.
A good example of modern propaganda is fashion. A bunch of guys in a room decide what newfangled creation they want to sell and by cooperating with television, celebrities, magazines, and influential web sites, they push a certain “style” that requires its victims to buy clothes they don’t need. Corporations know who influence your decisions and go after them to push their products.
“Men are very largely actuated by motives which they conceal from themselves.”
The book is more like a long brochure that Bernays hoped to hook future clients with. Once you get past the first 30 pages it becomes a chore to read. His writing style didn’t make things any easier, but understand that what he laid down here served as a rudimentary blueprint for manipulation on a large scale. It’s a short read that you can knock out in a couple days.
This is a true story of a guy who had his colon impacted. He describes the many surgeries he went through and all the funny moments that entailed have a gigantic section of his digestive tract removed. It’s one of the more amusing short stories I’ve read.
The author, a struggling actor, gets the chance to write for Seinfeld thanks to his connection to Larry David. The problem is that he’s the most beta and neurotic guy I’ve ever read in print—he actually makes George Constanza seem confident and alpha. Nonetheless, once you get past the slow beginning where he shares his life story, you get to read about how Seinfeld was made along with some behind-the-scens moments. Only check this out if you’re a Seinfeld fan.
I’ve also recently put up several of my short work on Kindle. Simply do an Amazon search for “roosh single” and you’ll find four of them.
Do you want to read more book reviews? Click here for the previous set.