A Better Man: True American Heroes Speak to Young Men On Love, Power, Pride and What It Really Means to Be a Man edited by Kelly Johnson
About the book
The journey from childhood to manhood is a momentous and often difficult time in every boy’s life. Never has this transition been more challenging than it is today. In addition to the perennial trials of peer pressure, hormones and popularity, young men must now grapple with a media-saturated culture that places enormous emphasis on physical appeal, material wealth and celebrity status. MTV personalities and video game heroes have become role models to a generation, and boys are hard-pressed to find reliable answers to the age-old question of what it really means to be a man.
Parents must be both creative and dogged to cut through this cultural noise, and they must work twice as hard to convey to their sons the inherent value of ideals such as courage, integrity and kindness. Positive male role models are too few, family time is increasingly scarce, and much of the wisdom that once passed naturally from one generation of men to the next is either drowned out by the drumbeat of popular culture or lost to the demands of the fast-paced life most families now lead.
The good news is that our young men come to this world with an instinct for heroism and rightness. After all, these are the same boys who once dreamed of being superheroes, policemen, army men and firemen. They were here to save the world! But somewhere along the way, our culture stepped in and took over those dreams and replaced them with thoughts of power and money and sex and violence. And the message of what defines true greatness became harder and harder to come by.
Stepping in to help fill the void, A Better Man features first-person narratives from some of the most respected and engaging men in America today. With sincerity, humor and directness, these surrogate fathers and grandfathers share their experience and advice on courage, service, anger, respect, and a host of other topics designed to inspire boys to imagine larger possibilities as they searched to define manhood for themselves. For example:
Civil rights icon Andrew Young talks about what happened at the Lorraine Motel in the moments before Dr. King was shot…and what he learned from that event.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck shares his thoughts on leadership in the huddle and his definition of a “great” man.
NBA Hall of Fame Basketball player Dominique Wilkins explains why it’s important to treat others with respect, do what you know is right, and stand up for yourself.
Four-star Admiral Leighton Smith talks about learning the lesson of responsibility (and avoiding the life of a pig farmer!).
A Better Man is relevant to boys 12 to 19 (and beyond). Yet it’s also written for exhausted parents, grandparents, guardians and others who feel out-gunned and overwhelmed by today’s toxic popular culture.
An open letter from one generation to the next, A Better Man sheds some much-needed light on the path to manhood, showing boys another way—a better way.
- 288 pages
- Published June 2009
About the author
Kelly H. Johnson is an attorney, writer, and the mother/stepmother of five sons and one daughter. She holds a BBA from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from the College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law. Ms. Johnson lives in Richmond, VA with her husband, Fred, and their children who outnumber them three to one.