Friday, November 06, 2015

Book Review: Danger & Play: Essays on Embracing Masculinity

Mike Cernovich is an interesting man. He combines the energy and up-with-people positivity of a perma-smiling pro seminar presenter with a laid-back personality of a California surfer. He's both a lawyer and ex-military, but it's hard to detect even the smallest sign of either aspect of his background. I met him for the first time in Paris this summer, as we co-hosted the GGinParis event with Milo, who at the time was the common link between us. (One thing people often don't realize about Milo is that he excels at putting people in touch with each other.) Mike and I hit it off right away; it didn't hurt that his fiance Shauna also happened to hit it off well with Spacebunny. And while I was aware of his health-and-fitness thing - the man is not only big, but he is an inveterate walker as well - I hadn't actually read his blog. And since I never listen to podcasts, I wasn't familiar with his popular Danger & Play podcast either.

But after having the chance to hang out with Mike and Shauna again in Spain, then reading Mike's Gorilla Mindset and discovering the inspirational, if literally bone-chilling magic of the contrast shower, I was looking forward to reading his new book of essays, Danger & Play: Essays on Embracing Masculinity, which are largely taken from his blog posts. They were entirely new to me, and I was, frankly, surprised to discover that it was in many ways more directly relevant to me and my objectives than Gorilla Mindset. This makes sense, actually, since mindset has never been a problem or a challenge for me, whereas a number of the issues that Mike addresses in the new book have been one or the other.

In fact, I found myself repeatedly highlighting various passages in the book as I was reading it in the gym, including the following:
  • If you're a momentum type, your brashness and boldness creates opportunity but also leads to costly mistakes.
  • Unless I bow down to the SJWs I will always be under attack. I'll always be a "bad" person. Only the complete and total surrender of your soul will placate the SJWs who went after Matt Taylor. That's not going to happen.
  • Cast aside any aspirations of mainstream acceptance, unless you're willing to crawl on your knees before Gawker.
  • Making money ethically is a sure sign that you are delivering value and goodwill to the world.
  • learn how to focus on vision rather than on what you're afraid of.
  • The little people, the flunkies, the peons: they are the ones that want to cut you down. The big guys, they respect the audacity.
  • Think like no one else thinks by noticing what no one else notices.
Now, one might be tempted to dismiss the book as a collection of cheerleading platitudes, except for the fact that the platitudes are the direct conclusions drawn from the experiences that Mike is recounting. He isn't blithely quoting someone when he cites "Patton or some Prussian general" in advising audacity; he clearly doesn't even know where the quote originates! Instead, and more importantly, he is summarizing what he learned from the various experiences recounted and what you can therefore apply to your own life.

(As it happens, the famous aphorism was coined by Georges Danton, the French revolutionary: De l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace. Mike was fortunate to avoid citing him as an example, however, considering that Danton was eventually beheaded by the Jacobins.)

Far from being a criticism, though, this is actually an example of the book's fundamental strength. It is focused on deeds, not words, action, not reflection, practice, not plans. It doesn't matter in the least who said what when, the point is that the reader needs to learn to be audacious in the way Patton and Rommel and Mike himself succeeded by being audacious. For those who are given to spending all their time planning, wishing, and dreaming instead of doing, this book should act as a direct shot of adrenaline.

Mike's literary persona is not an intellectual one. It is, rather, that of a big brother, telling his little brother to stop being such a jackass, stop uselessly spinning his wheels, and do what big brother's experience suggests will work for him instead. If self-help writers were NFL coaches, Mike Cernovich would be Bill Belichick. Do your job. Don't worry about the other guy. Just focus and do your fucking job!

Which leads me to the one weakness of the book: the language. It's not a book you would necessarily want to give to a young man under the age of 18. The saltiness and worldliness of the book is not inappropriate, nor is it particularly offensive by modern standards, but it does tend to preclude giving it to teenagers or putting it in your local school library. I didn't hesitate to have my son read Gorilla Mindset, I would probably wait until he was 18 or 19 to have him read Danger & Play: Essays on Embracing Masculinity.

Nevertheless, I will definitely have him read it when the time comes because the lessons it contains are that important. I firmly believe that if I had read it at 18, I would have avoided several significant mistakes, including the single biggest one of my life, which was not dropping out of college after my third semester there. Because if there is one lesson the reader learns from the book, it is that doing things simply because everyone else does them that way is the most certain path to mediocrity, frustration, and failure.



Blogger Midknight November 06, 2015 11:12 AM  

Yours and Mikes blogs, while they weren't the ones that introduced me to the red pill and the Alt-right, are the ones that taught me the most.

I had to be ready for it though.

Blogger dienw November 06, 2015 11:15 AM  

Making money ethically is a sure sign that you are delivering value and goodwill to the world.

Working part-time last Xmas season at a major department store made me understand that a moral person can no longer work in that milieu: the retail business is debt driven; the salesperson is pushed to promote obtaining and using credit cards; sale prices and discounts are dependent on using the store credit card.

A few months ago I watched a predatory sales person push, not persuade, an elderly black woman who being of advanced years did not have the mental strength to keep telling the sales woman no after repeated pressure.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet November 06, 2015 11:19 AM  

It is, rather, that of a big brother, telling his little brother to stop being such a jackass, stop spinning his wheels, and do what will work for him instead.

I got this impression as well. He seems to also have a friendly intensity about him that reminds me of a camp leader getting excited when the troop is all in on an adventure.

Blogger David The Good November 06, 2015 11:23 AM  

Just bought it. Thanks for the review.

Blogger Unknown November 06, 2015 11:40 AM  

I've been reading both you and Cernovich for years now, so I found it quite odd you two just met. It's really awesome how friends as well as common enemies bring people together. I assume you are contributing to his upcoming book and can't imagine the impact your joined forces will have. It will be ... nefarious.

Blogger maniacprovost November 06, 2015 11:41 AM  

Audacity works surprisingly well.

Blogger kurt9 November 06, 2015 12:50 PM  

Blogger Al Fin's "dangerous child" blog is worth reading as well, even if you do not have kids.

Blogger Student in Blue November 06, 2015 12:58 PM  

Audacity works surprisingly well.

Emphasis on the "surprising" part.

Anonymous kfg November 06, 2015 1:20 PM  

"Only the complete and total surrender of your soul will placate the SJWs who went after Matt Taylor."

They want your soul so that they may keep it under their heel and grind it in at will. I can't say that I see that as placation.

Blogger Daniel November 06, 2015 1:27 PM  

If your life's biggest and most profound mistake was graduating from college, man, you have a terminal case of 1st World problems, and that World is Mars.

Blogger Dave November 06, 2015 1:45 PM  

The Dark Lord has a soul?

Blogger Jack Ward November 06, 2015 2:18 PM  

OK. This recco is pretty strong. Guess I've got another book to read and another blog to add to the visit daily list. Ah well; idleness is the devils workshop or somesuch.

Blogger Jack Ward November 06, 2015 2:28 PM  

Ordered it. Should be interesting. Cheap enough at 5.99.

Blogger luagha November 06, 2015 2:41 PM  

@11 He keeps it in a jar on his desk next to his heart of a small boy.

Anonymous Anonymous November 06, 2015 3:10 PM  

OT, but amazon suggested this piece of shit to me:

In this fascinating book, two cucks take a hilarious romp through todays sexual market place and, in a surprise twist, tell men to MAN UP AND MARRY THOSE SLUTS. So brave! It's the current year, and these guys are here to tell young men all about it.

Chapters include: "Why the divorce is your fault", "Embracing her high-N lifestyle", "M'lady", "Bull-prepping your bank account" and "Always apologize!"


Blogger Brad Andrews November 06, 2015 4:21 PM  


I didn't see those chapter titles. Perhaps you were looking at a different book than the one you linked?

It is not worth $18 to me to find out what the advice it contains is however, so I won't know if your titles really fit or they are just pulled out of you rear.

Blogger Brad Andrews November 06, 2015 4:22 PM  


How much of the OT book is practical advice on what to do and how much is "here is what I did that works"? The latter has merit, but only if it can be applied and many putting that forth fail to bring many points into a way that the reader can fully relate to.

Application is always the hardest part.

Blogger VD November 06, 2015 4:34 PM  

Much more the latter than the former. What you call practical is almost useless because it's so time- and place-related. Application is the hardest part, but simply saying a blanket "do this" is almost always going to be wrong for most people.

Blogger Brad Andrews November 06, 2015 5:57 PM  

True, but I was thinking of examples that showed more how to do things in a way I could then apply to my own life. I read a few blog posts, mostly linked from his current blog post, and those did have good examples. The review on Amazon that noted it was good, but that you lost out on that linking aspect seems accurate. The links on the blog have good merit because you can immediately see how he put it into practice, not just read that he did so.

Easy to get lost chasing squirrels though.

I will at least add his blog to my reading and may buy the book regardless since the price is affordable.

His use of Amazon links with what seems to be his references has merit. I notice that you don't seem to do that much here and just direct link the item.

Blogger Tracy Coyle November 06, 2015 7:38 PM  

I will say this: there is much that women can learn too and recognizing the men that adhere to these ideas would be worth as much.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 06, 2015 8:12 PM  

Which leads me to the one weakness of the book: the language. It's not a book you would necessarily want to give to a young man under the age of 18.

If your kids are in public school then they're hearing worse every day. I started in 8th grade and within a month I didn't even hear the word "fuck" anymore, it was just another way of saying "uh" or "um".

So even if you're Amish I think 18 is a bit on the high side.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 06, 2015 8:17 PM  

Trouble communicating lately. I understand that this isn't how civilized people talk. But schools and culture at large are stuffed to the gills with proles and prole values.

It's like "the talk". Most kids learn about sex on the bus long before puberty.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 06, 2015 8:19 PM  

The Dark Lord has a soul?

Lots of them, I'd expect.

Blogger Hammerli 280 November 06, 2015 9:19 PM  

Vox, I'm not certain about that quote originating with Danton. I've read copies of letters from Patton to his son ascribing it to Marshal Turenne a good century earlier.

Blogger VD November 07, 2015 7:29 AM  

Vox, I'm not certain about that quote originating with Danton. I've read copies of letters from Patton to his son ascribing it to Marshal Turenne a good century earlier.

I'm not certain either, not having been there, but the Internet sources all point to Danton... and to Patton being unreliable on the source.

"In the film "Patton", the protagonist credits Frederick The Great for those words."

Blogger gamma secret kings reddit November 07, 2015 7:57 AM  

Great post, very encouraging and inspirational!

By all means more masculinity, less feminism and less defeatists. Every era requires courage and fortitude.

Blogger Peawiddy November 08, 2015 5:17 AM  

"Bull prepping your bank account" good work, sir. That is a keeper. Mind if I borrow it?

Blogger OreamnosAmericanus November 11, 2015 12:56 PM  

If you want a bracing book on the basics of the masculine, also try Jack Donovan's "The Way of Men."

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