Review: Masculinity Amidst Madness

Last week, Ryan Landry released his book Masculinity Amidst Madness, a collection of essays about the various aspects of masculinity and how they can still be realized in a world that descends into madness more and more with each passing day. For those unfamiliar with the author, Ryan Landry is the editor at American Sun and formerly the editor of Social Matter and host of Weimerica Weekly. Back in his Social Matter days, particularly in 2014-2016, I read Landry’s posts and listened to his podcast every week. Since his return to writing publicly, I’ve read his work sporadically.

Cover If you’re like me and have been a longtime fan of Landry, you’ll find this book delivers what you expect: a full-throated argument not just against the vision of masculinity projected by the media, but for a vision of modern masculinity that comports with natural law and the wisdom of the ages. The book consists of a series of essays about the different aspects of masculinity: study, fatherhood, physical fitness, etc.

While Landry never explicitly endorses Christianity in the book (instead he encourages practicing your family’s traditional faith), and directly discourages stoicism as a coping mechanism, the vision he puts forth seems most inspired by these two traditions. To distill Landry’s prescription down to a few key points they would be to: reject idleness, assume the roles you were made for, do the work of building civilization, and be an example to others.

The key question surrounding this book, in my mind, is who the intended audience is. If you’re someone like me who was there reading and in small part contributing to the discussion surrounding these issues in comment sections and on forums in the middle of the last decade, and who has also been putting them into practice, then this book is a restating of things you know and believe. If you’re a true believer in conspiracy theories like “toxic masculinity”, the book doesn’t spend any time trying to persuade you otherwise. However, if you’re someone who knows that what’s going on now isn’t right, but don’t know what the alternative is — than this book is written squarely for you.

This is a book to give to a questioning normie who is amenable to natural gender roles. The positive vision in this book means that it ignores or slides by issues which trigger mental shut off switches in the unawakened. The book doesn’t say that wives should obey their husbands, it says that husbands should lead their wives. This key distinction opens up the size of the receptive audience of this book. To its intended audience, this book will seem like it’s telling them things they already knew were true, even while teaching and suggesting they make major changes in their habits.

I also can’t help but think, in my cynicism, that this book was put together in part due to the reaction of conservative media to Bronze Age Mindset. Bewildered conservative columnists wrote many blogposts trying to “get” Bronze Age Mindset and distill it for a wider audience. This book delivers on what those columnists wanted: an articulation of ideas from the post-conservative right that they can grapple with and discuss free from the difficult writing style and fabulous nature of BAP’s work. Unlike Bronze Age Mindset, Masculinity Amidst Madness goes to where the potential converts are and speaks to them in terms they can understand. Obviously this comes at the cost of the irreverence, mischief and the ability to float between ideas and points.

Certainly, Masculinity Amidst Madness accomplishes its goal of outlining an positive vision of masculinity in our current age that is in concert with the natural law, and I don’t think it will be long before we see it seep into conservative circles.

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