Eric Metaxas, NY Times best-selling author, makes the point that in our culture we are loathe to point out anyone as a good role model. Metaxas bucks that trend in his book, 7 Men. He champions the notion that the knight in shining armor who does all he can to protect others and the gentleman who opens a door for a lady are the ideals of manliness.
In a world where all authority is questioned and in which our appreciation of real leadership has been badly damaged, we end up with very little in the way of the heroic in general. Added to that is the revisionism applied to historical figures.
For example, George Washington is no longer seen as the manly Father of the Country but as a wealthy landowner who hypocritically owned slaves. Columbus isnt held up as heroic explorer opening up a New World, but as a murderer of indigenous people.
Idol worship is never good but neither is being overly critical of otherwise good men.
What sets 7 Men apart is that the author doesnt talk about manhood he shows what manhood looks like in the lives of great men.
Seeing and studying the actual lives of people is simply the best way to communicate ideas about how to behave and how not to behave.
Metaxas believes that one of the primary characteristics of authentic manhood is someone who sacrifices himself for those he loves. Thats a picture of real fatherhood and real manhood.
Each man surrendered himself to a higher purpose and gave something away that they might have kept.
Metaxas' writing style is engaging and inspiring. One of the best features is the bonus chapter on Corrie Ten Boom at the back of the book.
Here is a biographic volume consisting of seven vignettes. The subtitle of And the secret of their greatness hints at what author Eric Metaxes is up to. Never was an introduction more indispensable than here where we learn that he is not attempting to give an authoritative biographic word, but to examine the questions: 1) What is a man? and b) What makes a man great?
This is not profound biography. There is likely very little new here beyond what you might read in a longer biography, but his wrestling with real manhood is more of a success. At times, he rambles about his own personal thoughts or reminiscences of the subject at hand, but it all flows well. Though he has written some well-received biographies, this volume appears to be put together more in haste.
Still, it is enjoyable reading and goes fast. I left it wanting to read a fuller length biography of at least two of his 7 men. The addition of the chapter on Corrie Ten Boom was nice too.
There is a pretty good tracing of Christianity in each life and some good insights. Some of us would question Pope John Paul II being included and offered as if on the same level of Christianity as the others, but even that chapter told all I might ever want to know of him in an interesting way.
These books of collated mini-biographies can be a nice change up in our reading schedule and can suggest future reading. For what it is, it is well done.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255.
I first encountered Eric Metaxas last year as I read his abridged autobiography of Dietrich
Bonhoeffer. I was pleased to have the opportunity to review another of his recent books. I have not been disappointed.
After nicely presented Introduction, the book focuses on short biographical essays on seven men who have influenced western culture:
Pope John Paul II
Charles W. Colson
Eric Metaxas claims that each of these men had character traits that allowed them to stand out in their in own lifetimes and to world in the years (and, in some cases, centuries) following their death.
Using the biographies penned by the author, I would agree with his choices except for that of George Washington - a slave owner, a poor military leader for much of his life, and misleading statements made about his own life all contribute to my concerns. He had traits that made him stand out (humility and leadership skills); but, given the picture of his life portrayed by Metaxas, George Washington does not compare to the other six men examined in the book. It is possible that Metaxas missed discussing the faults of the other six, but given the emphasis he gives to the faults of George Washington, his name does not belong with the other six.
My other concern is that the list of names is decidedly Western and European. Given the international nature of the church, there must be African, Asian, and South American representatives that will have stood the test of time. The author hints that more books may be coming in this series - perhaps they will cross the cultural boundaries avoided in this current book.
Despite these two concerns, the book was well worth the time I spent reading it over the past week. The character traits represented by these seven men make each of them stand out in their own time and for all time. The traits exhibited by these seven are well worth emulating by the men being raised to lead the next generation as well as our own.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
"7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness" by Eric Metaxas presents mini-biographies of seven men and the faith that shaped them. The men featured include George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson.
I had previously read Metaxas's biographies of Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer, but was not as familiar with the other five men. This book taught me many things about each of these men. The character of each man shone through as Metaxas explored their lives. These biographies are well-written and detailed, with the amount of meticulous research shining through.
Washington gave up power for the greater good. Wilberforce dedicated his life to fighting the slave trade. Liddell gave up a chance to win in the Olympics by putting his faith first. Bonhoeffer defied the Nazis and was martyred as a result. Robinson broke the baseball color barrier. John Paul II surrendered his entire life to God and His service. Colson ended up serving time in prison, but developed a wide-reaching prison ministry as a result.
As a mom of two young boys, I am disheartened by the portrayal of men and manhood in popular culture today. A book like this is a true gem; I am excited to introduce my boys to the men in this book. This is a wonderful book that causes me to want to learn more about the men featured here.
(Ive received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)
Excellent examples of the character profiles missing among, not only in our young people, but in our society as a whole. Sure wish our National leaders could model such men, if they did we would not be in the moral decline our country is now experiencing.