Monday 26th September 2022

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

A Book Review… Anthony Esolen Offers “No Apologies”

September 21, 2022 Frontpage No Comments


No Apologies: Why Civilization Depends on the Strength of Men, by Anthony Esolen. Available as hardcover and as Kindle at

Anthony Esolen is one of the finest cultural and literary critics currently alive. His Catholicism and traditionalism, though, mean he doesn’t receive the accolades of the city of man despite being far more insightful, witty, and eloquent than those barbarous butchers of language and culture who win prizes from prestigious universities and book clubs. But for Catholics, Esolen’s writings are unrivaled.
In his new book, No Apologies: Why Civilization Depends on the Strength of Men, Esolen wades into stormy seas to offer an apologia for the need of strong men and duty to God, family, and country — all the things scorned by our cultural and intellectual establishment.
What makes a good writer and public intellectual is their command of language, eloquence, and wit, and ability to weave the great treasures of culture together for a compelling story. That is what made Dr. Samuel Johnson great. That is what made G.K. Chesterton great. That is what made C.S. Lewis great. And that is what makes Anthony Esolen great.
Esolen’s book is not just a salvo in the ongoing culture and gender wars, it is also a work of literary criticism and intellectual engagement with three millennia of culture and what culture informs us about questions of manhood, gender, and bravery. “I am writing a book that should not have to be written,” Esolen writes. But we are certainly thankful that he did.
In our age when feminists and their male-feminist allies assault the family, assert that most — if not all — social evils are the product of “toxic masculinity,” and that women and society would be better off without men, Esolen returns to the beginning. “Men and women are made for one another,” he reminds us after discussing John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the relationship of Adam and Eve. “Male and female stand and fall together.”
A century ago, virtually everyone knew this. Today, not so much. While older generations of Americans still agree with these basic truths, this is why Esolen’s work is so sorely needed — many younger Americans do not. This book is not just written for the choir. It is written for young adults and adults with children who must be safeguarded from a pernicious education system.
The reason why our sick and dying education system venomously targets children, young boys especially, with its gender and transgender ideology, is because boys are weak and vulnerable where men are strong and determined. “When you can’t persuade the men [of toxic masculinity], you go for the little boys confined to the classroom.” As Esolen rightly rebuts, “Enough.”
Over the course of six chapters and just under 200 pages, Esolen provides a tour-de-force pilgrimage through culture, literature, and Bible about the nature of manhood: strength, agency, the team, family, vision, and God the Father. In doing so, he seamlessly weaves these seemingly disparate aspects of masculinity into a cohesive and logical vision of how male energy is directed to the Good, True, and Beautiful rather than the erotic self which often leaves destruction and despondency in its wake. Uniting with others is the ultimate goal.
Because humans are social creatures, Esolen also deconstructs and demolishes the usual feminist and transgender talking points that are pontificated without opposition as if universal truth in classrooms.
Far from boys being socialized into toxic males, male nature leads them to team competition with positive rules and regulations to teach them the value of competitive companionship which has implications for “the team,” the family, the nation, and spiritual leadership. This is something to be celebrated, not condemned and dismantled.
Much of what Esolen says has resonance with me, a millennial, who often invented and played games outdoors with my younger brother, cousins, and neighbors.
We would, as Esolen observes, invent games with rules so that all could enjoy which implicitly promoted the value of teamwork and companionship. This, in turn, would manifest adventure and leadership; adventure and leadership, of course, are two hallmark traits of masculinity. This prepared me for high school athletics.
Part of the general thesis of the book is how natural masculinity, the spirit of adventure, action, and conquest, eventually gets channeled into productive civilizational pursuits. The taming of nature and the creation of infrastructure from which civilization arises are all positive creations of the male drive acting on behalf of others.
This, though, doesn’t mean women and children are not involved. Au contraire, precisely because men are married and have a family, or looking for a family, they embrace public service creation. We all benefit from this spirit of self-sacrifice for others, for our community, for our family — like Aeneas and so many other great figures in our cultural poetry and literature.
Esolen is also at his best, befitting the fact he is a professor of literature, when drawing on the rich oasis of Western poetry and what it tells us about civilization and the spirit of men, women, and the family. Not only is “No Apologies” an apologia for civilization and masculinity in an age of anti-civilization and hatred and belittling of all things male, but it is also an apologia for Western culture and literature and why it matters and what truths these texts tell us.
In the end, the order of love that arises from masculinity serving others is what is communicated by Christianity and its theology of God the Father as the origin and starting point of creation. The imitation of God the Father, by men, is an orderly love that creates and directs all to the orderly love that gave rise to the cosmos and the beautiful things the heavens hold.
Recovering this spirit is needed for the rescuing of civilization. Or, perhaps, the spirit needed for building a new civilization out of the ashes of our current dying civilization.
Sometimes Troy is already lost, but the new city that awaits us is even greater than the old. This is a challenging task, an adventurous task, one that demands the very best in us. But especially of men and the lives they live and work they do for others. Esolen reminds us of this noble and heroic call.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

Bishops, priests and scholars correct Pope Francis’ statement on Holy Communion

(LifeSiteNews) — Four bishops, several priests, and numerous Catholic scholars have signed a statement rebuking Pope Francis for a recent statement about the reception of Holy Communion, according to which “everyone is invited to the supper of the wedding of the Lamb (Re 19:9). To be admitted to the feast all that is required is the wedding garment of faith which comes from the hearing of his Word.” The Pope wrote these words in his…Continue Reading

A futuristic Nur-Sultan ready welcomes Pope Francis to Kazakhstan

As Pope Francis prepares to depart for Kazakhstan on Tuesday, our correspondent in Nur-Sultan takes a look at his upcoming participation in the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, as well as the small Catholic community’s great joy to receive the Holy Father.

Joe Biden Calls MAGA Americans Violent, Ignores Leftist Violence Against Churches, Pregnancy Centers

Illuminated with blood-red lights, draped in inky shadows, and flanked by U.S. Marines, President Biden launched into an angry screed Thursday night, using dangerous and inciting rhetoric to attack so-called “MAGA Republicans.” It was a terrifying sight that drew praise and flowery language from the “journalists” of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 as they lauded the “full frontal attack” and asserted he was “reclaiming patriotism.” “President Biden finishing a 24-minute speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. He said as…Continue Reading

Pope Francis creates 20 cardinals for the Catholic Church

Rome Newsroom, Aug 27, 2022 / 08:31 am Pope Francis created 20 new cardinals for the Catholic Church during a liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica Saturday. “Jesus calls us by name; he looks us in the eye and he asks: Can I count on you?” Pope Francis said in a homily addressed to the College of Cardinals and its new members on Aug. 27. “The Lord,” he said, “wants to bestow on us his own…Continue Reading

Toyota Sponsors Lesson on ‘First Steps’ of Drag Artistry for Children

Toyota sponsored an event for “LGBTQ+ Youth” that featured a performance from a drag performer and a workshop on “the first steps of becoming a fabulous drag performer.” The event, called “Models of Pride,” was hosted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and was intended for those 24 years and younger. No minimum age was listed on the website. The Los Angeles LGBT Center described it as “the world’s largest free conference for LGBTQ+ youth…Continue Reading

Biden Is Losing The Race For The Cure

By STEPHEN MOORE President Joe Biden recently announced, with great fanfare, his Cancer Moonshot initiative. Biden used soaring and promising rhetoric about, at last, finding a cure for one of the world’s leading killers.Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on September 12, the president declared:“Beating cancer is something we…Continue Reading

Becoming Pro-Life The Hard Way

By DONALD DeMARCO “Aujourd’hui Maman est morte. Ou, hier, peut-etre; je ne sais pas.” (Today my mother died. Or was it yesterday, I don’t know.) + + This is the celebrated opening of Nobel Laureate Albert Camus’ novel, The Stranger. It immediately establishes the main character as a person who, being emotionally unmoved by the…Continue Reading

The Queen: End Of An Era

By JOHN J. METLZER The Queen has died; the page of history has turned. The passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest serving monarch, has shocked and saddened much of the world despite the sovereign’s declining health and her 96 years of age. Just months after having joyfully celebrated her platinum Jubilee commemorating 70 years…Continue Reading

The “Secure Border” Of Kamala Harris

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY When Donald Trump was president in fiscal 2019, the Border Patrol did not encounter a single individual on the terrorist watchlist trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border between the legal ports of entry.In the first ten months of this fiscal year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, they encountered…Continue Reading

Welcome to the Green New Deal, California

By DAVID HARSANYI If California, our most populous state, were its own nation, it would rank as the world’s fifth largest economy and boast the highest average household income (outside a handful of “countries” like Monaco or Luxemburg). And, yet, the governor is begging its citizens to stop using their appliances, turn off their lights…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

How Long, O Lord?

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time Readings:Hab. 1:2-3, 2:2-42 Tim. 1:6-8, 13-14Luke 17:5-10 The first reading today, from the Prophet Habakkuk, is very apropos for our time. As it was in his day, so too it is in ours: people crying to God for help, but nothing seems to happen; people crying out “violence,” but God does…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I don’t use rosary beads to say the rosary since I pray in the car or while doing gardening or housework. Is it okay to pray the rosary daily with my fingers? Also, I have seen pictures of St. Joseph with lilies, and I have been told that is the way he was chosen to be the husband of…Continue Reading

Future Bleak for Vatican II Mass

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK My parish is forced back into compliance with the “unique liturgical expression of the Roman rite” this month, as expressed by Pope Francis in Traditionis custodes, with the banning of the traditional Latin Mass in my as well as in other parish churches. This in order to open us to the full experience of the…Continue Reading

Crazy! . . . A Homily For The 24th Sunday Of The Year

(Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this on September 10 and it is posted here with permission.) + + The three parables in this Sunday’s lengthy Gospel challenge conventional thinking. They describe people doing things that we most likely would not do. All three of them — especially the first two — seem crazy. Who would ever do what the…Continue Reading

Cardinal Brandmueller… Pope Francis Prevented Crucial Dialogue Among Cardinals At Consistory

By SANDRO MAGISTER (Wanderer Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews reprinted this article from L’Espresso on August 31. Fr. Kevin M. Cusick alluded to Cardinal Brandmueller’s remarks in his Wanderer column dated September 8.) + + (L’Espresso) — On August 29, a consistory saw the cardinals gathered with Pope Francis. It was behind closed doors, but above all it was broken down, at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Bridget

By DEB PIROCH “Oh my friends, I love my sheep so tenderly that were it possible I would die many other times for each one of them that same death I suffered for the redemption of all” — Words attributed to Christ, Revelations of St. Bridget. + + In 1999, Pope St. John Paul II issued a moto proprio, making…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Lawrence O’Toole

By DEB PIROCH This Irish saint existed parallel to the life of St. Thomas Becket. Some of his biography can be difficult to follow, given Gaelic history and language, so we try to anglicize everything possible in this article. But his feast fast approaches, November 14, a time to acquaint ourselves with his holy life.Lawrence was the youngest of four…Continue Reading