Book Review: The Way of Men by Jack Donovan


“It’s tragic to think that heroic man’s great destiny is to become economic man, that men will be reduced to craven creatures who crawl across the globe competing for money, who spend their nights dreaming up new ways to swindle each other. That’s the path we’re on now. What a withering, ignoble end…”
―Jack Donovan, The Way of Men


Video Version:


Who is Jack Donovan? I didn’t know and that was fine. Then, I stumbled upon his work, a conceptual analysis of masculinity. I wondered: How did I get so far off course? Where did I go wrong? Where are my friends? My brothers? Why am I ashamed of The Way of Men?

I have to admit that for most of my life, I have been searching for something. A group, a religion, a cause, somewhere to belong, somewhere to be. This is one of the reasons I joined the Army, to be a part of a brotherhood. For the comradery, the mutual respect, the guidance, the paratrooping, and the sacrifice. I am not saying that I found what I was looking for in this book, but perhaps I’ve been looking in the wrong places.

“If you are never truly challenged in a meaningful way and are only required to perform idiot-proofed corporate processes to get your meat and shelter, can you ever truly be engaged enough to call yourself alive, let alone a man?”

―Jack Donovan, The Way of Men

I want to be the first to tell you that this is NOT a feminist-bashing book or a guide to be a cool jerk and pick up women. This book, like most analyses of life, WILL NOT tell you what to do to be successful. Instead, it offers a hard slap that reveals reality after the headache subsides. It awakens us to the dangerous path that men face should we tramp along, maintaining the gaze at our shoes. This book also stresses the importance of being a part of a tribe.


What is masculinity? Ask ten men and you’ll get ten vague, conflicting answers. Unlike any book of its kind, The Way of Men offers a simple, straightforward answer-without getting bogged down in religion, morality, or politics. It’s a guide for understanding who men have been and the challenges men face today. The Way of Men captures the silent, stifling rage of men everywhere who find themselves at odds with the over-regulated, over-civilized, politically correct modern world. If you’ve ever closed your eyes and wished for one day as a lion, this book is for you.


What I Liked About This Book:

I could quote Donovan for days. This is the kind of book that one reads which makes you highlight entire sections and say: You Know What? He’s Right.

The author takes on the challenge of describing the difference between being a good man and being good at being a man.

“Being good at being a man isn’t a quest for moral perfection, it’s about fighting to survive. Good men admire or respect bad men when they demonstrate strength, courage, mastery or a commitment to the men of their own renegade tribes. A concern with being good at being a man is what good guys and bad guys have in common.”  

―Jack Donovan, The Way of Men

Donovan’s keen observations on the turning of our society is not just backed by jargon alone. His use of quotes and research is relentless. He provides historical examples in context but gives the reader enough to chew on without being arrogant.

Where do I go from here? What do I do? Are these simply things to keep in mind, a new mode of being, a way of looking at the world? This book has enlightened me enough to be proud of who I am. It has taught me to be less apologetic, less explanatory, and therefore, less problematic.


What I Didn’t Like About This Book:

I still don’t know who Jack Donovan is and I remain uncertain. Yet, I am intensely intrigued and scared at what I may find. An illusion? A better Man?

I think that some may pick this book up believing that it will tell them what to do. It does not. To be fair, it starts to at the end when Donovan suggests to Form a Gang. His other books, also on my Summer Reading List, may be more practical in nature but this is more food for thought on the meaning of masculinity in our time.

I had to break this book up over a few weeks as I found his style of writing and citation both intense and overbearing. Why? I often read three books at a time with such eagerness. I read magazines, newspapers, and blogs. How could this book throw such a wrench in my reading machine? Easy, because it made me think too much.

It’s hard to knock a book for making you think. This book was too short and very dangerous. I will read it again.

This made me question a great deal, yet still I wonder who is the man behind the book? A complicated man, to be sure.

His controversial book Androphilia was reportedly “…required reading for young homosexual men looking for an alternative to disco balls, rainbow flags and celebrity gossip.” – Just Out, Portland. What? Jack Donovan is gay? Might be. Ok, fine.

How has he come to such conclusions? Is he for real? How does he live these principles he describes? I have no doubt that a day with Jack Donovan would change me forever, which is a tad scary.

This brings me to another point: accessibility.

“Western men are supposed to constantly ask women for permission and make sure women don’t feel threatened or undermined in any way.”

―Jack Donovan, The Way of Men

I know what he means and I see myself fall into certain traps with regards to my interpersonal relationships. Yet, I wonder how many would be turned off? How many men with daughters like me would have difficulty swallowing a hard truth?

This is no way means that I think Donovan should have made this work more accessible or watered down. Bitter pills are best swallowed whole.

“Honor Diversity” is an interesting slogan, because it essentially means “honor everyone and everything.” If everyone is honored equally, and everyone’s way of life is honored equally, honor has no hierarchy, and therefore honor has little value according to the economics of supply and demand. “Honor diversity” doesn’t mean much more than “be nice.”

―Jack Donovan, The Way of Men



What this Does for My Writing:

This tops the charts with Branding. From cover design, to his small press, to his social media, Jack is a work of art. This makes sense, it is what he studied. His covers are instant T-shirts and highly recognizable. I actually tried to emulate his simple yet tragic style on my Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss cover. He himself is a masculine figure which commands idolization. I would follow him into a jungle, I think. Is that where we are going Jack? 

Reading this book has made me want to write a guide for young men. I think that men ages 13-22 could do well learning some of these principles, especially with regards to honor.

Earlier, I reviewed The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green. The diction in that book makes me narrate my life as I live it and want to write. I do not get the same effect from The Way of Men. Instead, I think hard and long about my own plight, and that of the universe. This is one of the reasons this relatively short book took me so long to read.


Be careful friend, should you tread down this wild path.

Jack Donovan’s website

Jack Donovan’s podcast Start The World

Jack Donovan on YouTube


More Books by Jack Donovan:


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