The Compleat Gentleman

  • by Brad Miner
  • Narrated by Christopher Lane
  • 8 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

At a time of astonishing confusion about what it means to be a man, Brad Miner has recovered the oldest and best ideal of manhood: the gentleman. Reviving a thousand-year tradition of chivalry, honor, and heroism, The Compleat Gentleman provides the essential model for 21st-century masculinity. Despite our confusion, real manhood is not complicated. It is an ancient ideal based on service to one's God, country, family, and friends, a simple but arduous ideal worthy of a lifetime of struggle.
Miner's gentleman stands out for his dignity, restraint, and discernment. He rejects the notion that one way of behaving is as good as another. He belongs to an aristocracy of virtue, not of wealth or birth. Proposing neither a club nor a movement, Miner describes a lofty code of manly conduct, which, far from threatening democracy, is necessary for its survival.
Miner traces the concept of manliness from the jousting fields of the 12th century to the decks of the Titanic. The three masculine archetypes that emerge, the warrior, the lover, and the monk, combine in the character of the "compleat gentleman". This modern knight cultivates a martial spirit in defense of the true and the beautiful. He treats the opposite sex with the passionate respect required by courtly love. And he values learning in the pursuit of truth, all with the discretion, decorum, and nonchalance that the Renaissance called sprezzatura.
The Compleat Gentleman is filled with examples from the past and the present of the man our increasingly uncivilized age demands.

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What the Critics Say

"What can the word 'gentleman' have to do with 21st-century America? A lot....Miner writes with wit and charm." (Wall Street Journal)
"In erudite and witty prose, Miner explores these three facets of his concept of the gentleman through an engaging survey of knighthood, warfare and courtship....Miner's theories are consistently entertaining." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good argument (with a single near-fatal flaw)

This book is a joy to read for anyone longing to escape the confines of our decadent culture. The history of gentlemanliness, chivalry, courtship, and honor that comprises the first portion of the book is sound and thorough enough, but the point of this text comes toward the end, where Miner explains what it is to be a gentleman in today?s society. He shows how it is possible and gives examples of modern day gentlemen (largely centered around the military and the heroes of 9/11).

The argument for chivalry stumbles when the author tries to make a case for martial combat. Simply, our age cannot condone martial combat because technology has eliminated the possibility of honorable combat. School shootings and the prospect of nuclear war are proof that we should find a better outlet for physical prowess. Sport is the closest thing I can think of, but it is not mentioned in the book.

The big problem with Miner?s examination is his exaltation of coolness. The way he puts it, cool (sprezzatura) is the ultimate aim of the gentleman. And while a solid case can be made for sprezzatura, coolness means nonchalance and insouciance, and those things do not always lead to refinement and excellence. Indeed, coolness is the primary aim of our culture these days and it leads directly to all the problems that Miner is trying to correct with the compleat gentleman.

It is a fine collection of refreshing ideas and is well worth the read despite its near-fatal flaw. The author is diligent in locating the source of words and ideas and it is worth the read just to know where the word ?romance? came from. Ultimately, the book will probably add some energy to the growing movement toward a more civilized society.
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- Eric

Not what I expected, either

This is a book that all liberals need to read. It provides an infusion of strength and purpose. The author is certainly not a hippie, but neither is he neo-conservative. He doesn't glorify violence, but he does preach conviction and dedication, and he acknowledges that as long as there are things worth fighting for, you'd better be prepared to fight. There's a big difference between standing up for what's right and just waxing philosophic about "the way things ought to be", and we liberals have largely forgotten that. This book is a much-needed wakeup call.
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- Peter

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-10-2004
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.