Book Notes - "The Way of Men" by Jack Donovan

  1. Chapter One: The Way of Men is The Way of The Gang
    • Notes
      • The core idea is that masculinity derives from the fact that men have always (and continue to) bond in groups for mutual protection and purpose.
      • These gangs are key to understanding male nature.
      • Masculinity, in Donovan’s perspective, isn’t about societal expectations, but about the innate drives and desires that make men valuable to each other.
      • He questions modern society’s detachment from these primal roots and proposes that many of the problems modern men face are due to this disconnect.
      • The very essence of masculinity is rooted in the tribal nature of men.
      • Men gravitate towards groups for mutual defense, camaraderie, and shared purpose.
    • Thoughts
      • It seems reasonable to assume that this drive for mutual defense and shared purpose is experienced by modern men in modern society. I keep getting the impression that Donovan dismisses this as so much of his brand depends on primitivism. But I think men could benefit from the idea that they are supposed to be in mortally risky situations, that they are supposed to depend on each other for mutual defense, friendship, and purpose.
      • The takeaway is that maybe we should encourage men to pursue risks even more than they do. Perhaps we can leverage this entire framework by making our work PROFESSIONALLY risky if not MORTALLY so.
  2. Chapter Two: The Perimeter
    • Notes
      • Men must establish and defend boundaries, differentiating between ‘us’ and ‘them’.
      • Men value each other, as men, based on who they believe will be willing to fight to eliminate a potential threat or willing to take that which we need?
      • Reproductive realities create an unavoidable selection process for exploring, hunting, fighting, building and defending.
      • Biological feedback loop that makes men bigger, more daring, aggressive, risky. As we leverage those traits to compete for status and win, our bodies create more testosterone, increasing those traits.
      • This practical division of labor is where the male world begins - it drive men together.
      • Small groups are natural… 2 - 15 men is ideal and natural (apostles); strength of bond will decrease as size of group increases.
      • It is the drive of men to separate his group us from other groups them.
      • It is the drive of men to create a circle of trust
      • Men will dehumanize each other to make the tough decisions necessary for their own group to survive.
      • Civilization is dependent upon men to embrace this identity of “drawer and defender of the perimeter”
      • Protecting is the primal role and your value to other men is determined by how well you fulfill that role.
    • Quote(s)

      When men evaluate each other, as men, they still look for the same virtues that they’d need to keep the perimeter. Men respond to and admire the qualities that would make men useful and dependable in an emergency. Men have always had a role apart, and they still judge one another according to the demands of that role as a guardian, in a gang struggling for survival against encroaching doom. Everything about being a man, not merely a person, has to do with THAT role. As you stand back to back, fending off incoming oblivion, what do you need from the men in your group… what kind of men do you want at your flank?

    • Thoughts
      • Continuing with my desire to interpret this as a metaphor for modern man, I am starting to see something take shape. What is the modern father if not someone drawing and defending boundaries, striving succesfully to eliminate potential threats? What is the modern business man if not someone exploring for opportunity, hunting for return, building an empire, and defending it with all the cunning he can? Does he not still get a testosterone bump for winning? Does he not become more driven the more successful he is? Does he not draw a small group of people (2-15 people) into his circle of trust? Does he not judge them based on his impression of their willingness and ability to grow and successfully defend the perimeter? Do his men not judge him harshly on his ability to wield those virtues?
      • I need to focus on building a deep and dedicated circle of trust. I need to become the man that is attractive to men who are good at being men.