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Book Review: Manthropology, by Peter McAllister

As far as I know, there's no such thing as Pop Anthropology, but Manthropology, by Peter McAllister probably qualifies. The book uses seemingly genuine anthroplogical methods to tap into one of the deepest and most commonly held laments of modern man: that we are nothing more than pale immitations of the previous milennia of machismo that have come before us. In other words, that Men aren't what they used to be.

So what? I'm not really sure. I already know that I have never been in a war, ploughed a field, sailed the open seas, or fathered a half-dozen children by the age of 30...all of which my anscestors have been doing for generation upon generation. I don't need a book to tell me that my predescessors in maleness were more rugged and lived harder lives than I do. I already know that, taking a look at all of history, most of my contemporaries and I would be considered "girlie men."

But, what McAllister's book also does is to show that modern males aren't even the best at being "girly men." He points out the the ancient Greeks and Romans, and several different tribes around the world were and are far better at being vain and narcissistic even than modern "metrosexuals." This aspect of the book was quite shocking, and leaves the reader to ask the very pointed question: "So what can we say for the modern American/Western Male?"

Well, either McAllister doesn't answer that question or I just haven't gotten to that part of the book yet. But it's a damned interesting question to think about.

Overall, this book is a fun read. I skipped around quite a bit and admittedly only read about 50% of it, but I got the gist. It has fun little tidbits here and there to break-up the monotony of huge swaths of uninterrupted text (which, as a modern day Neanderthal, I hate). McAllister uses some methods that I find to be a little bit questionable, such as how he calculates the strength of the average pre-historic male and female. However, it makes for an interesting read and seems to be based on logic.

So maybe Men aren't what they used to be. Frankly, so what? The world isn't what it used to be, either. Nothing is. But if you have a passing interest in Anthropology/Sociology, and care to read a detailed account of the state of modern man vs. that of men throughout history (and pre-history) this is a fun and well-written book. I'd say, check it out from the library, but don't bother buying it hardcover. If the modern man as been in decline for 100,000 years, waiting one or two more ain't going to hurt...


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